Saturday, June 24, 2006

By Any Measure, Wisconsin Taxes are HIGH

You could buy BagManJim's story about Wisconsin's tax burden being 14th in the country.

OR you could read the numbers which make Wisconsin 3rd in the country.

OR maybe we're #6.

Madison-based Wistax, as [Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance] calls itself, compiled its main ranking by tabulating the tax revenue collected by all state and local taxing bodies - which encompass revenue for property, income, gasoline, cigarette and retail sales taxes - and dividing it by the state's total personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, interest and certain other income. Wistax said it looked at all tax levies except those from federal authorities, which apply uniformly to all states.

Under that reckoning, Wisconsin collects 12.2% of the state's income in taxes, compared with the national average of 11%.

New York had the highest state and local taxes by that measure, at 14.7%, followed by Wyoming (13.9%), Maine (13.4%), Hawaii (12.6%) and Vermont (also 12.2%, but hundredths of a point ahead of Wisconsin), the group said. Among neighboring states, Wisconsin was higher than Minnesota (11.2% of income, 16th highest); Illinois (10.6%, 30th); and Michigan (10.5%; 33rd). Alabama (8.9%) had the lowest "tax take."

BagMan's story comes from this guy:

Andrew Reschovsky, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also broke out the census numbers and showed Wisconsin ranks No. 14 nationally. His calculations, however, included other government fees and service charges that each state assesses in addition to the revenue that state and local authorities collect through taxes.

"In Wisconsin, we have made a choice to finance government by relying more heavily on taxes and less heavily on fees and charges than the average state," Reschovsky said.

"Thus, university tuition is relatively low in Wisconsin, automobile license and registration fees are much lower than in many other states, and we don't charge tolls on our highways."

Of course, it's possible that residents of other States can avoid "other government fees..." such as tolls, by not driving on toll roads.

Wistax has traditionally compared Wisconsin's average per-capita INCOME with that of other States; this sharpens the focus of the tax burden. A few years ago, it was the case that Wisconsin's per-cap income was about 85% of the national average.

With taxes running about 110% of the national average, the pain is serious.

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