RICH GET RICHER: New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest one percent | WisCommunity

RICH GET RICHER: New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest one percent

Scott Walker frequently gabs about how his tax-cut policies are benefitting many taxpayers when, in reality, Wisconsin's middle class and poor pay are now paying higher tax rates than the wealthiest state residents.

If you're not among the top 20 percent of Wisconsin taxpayers, you're paying a higher, combined state and local tax rate than those wealthiest state residents. And the state's very most wealthy residents -- the top one percent -- pay a measley 6.2% in those taxes, less than everyone else and nearly three points lower than the poorest state taxpayers are made to hand over.

To see the details, click on the table, above left, to enlarge it for easier inspection.

Joel McNally, columnist at Milwaukee's Shepherd Express and Madison's Capital Times, dug out statistics from a new national study released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization. The study refutes the kind of political rhetoric on tax policy that Walker has used to win re-election and run for president.

The study shows that every state in the nation takes a higher percentage of income in local and state taxes from middle class and poor taxpayers than from the wealthy, who benefit through what amounts to an upward income redistribution scheme. McNally relayed the numbers for Wisconsin:

The lowest 20% in income in Wisconsin pay 8.9% of their family income in state and local taxes. The second lowest 20% pay 10%. The mid 20% pay 10.2%. So does the fourth 20%. That’s 80% of taxpayers.

Now look what happens to the top 20% in family income. The lowest 15% of that wealthy group pay 9.2% in state and local taxes. The next 4% pay 7.8%. And the top 1% pays only 6.2% in state and local taxes.

There’s a simple explanation for the gross—in every sense of the word—disparity. Most state revenue everywhere is raised through sales and excise taxes hidden in the price of every purchase.

Walker conveniently (for his own purposes) evades that disparity, focusing on cuts in the property tax rate thanks to a tax cap, which has handcuffed many a public school district. He often says taxes on a "typical" Wisconsin home are now $141 lower than they were four years ago when he took office. However:

1. Many lower-income people live in less than typical homes and get smaller breaks than that $141, while wealthier people tend to live in homes more expensive than typical, and so get a bigger property tax break. Indeed, if you own a home worth millions, as a few among us do, your property tax break will be in the thousands.

2. For many state residents, other rising taxes and fees raise the overall state tax burden more than that "typical" property tax cut. And, of course, many people get no property tax cut at all, because they rent.

All of which is to say: Wisconsin's tax system is regressive -- it costs everyone except the rich a greater share of their income. Even the poorest taxpayers among us are forced to exert more effort, relative to their earnings, than the richest among us.

More at the links below.


January 23, 2015 - 10:25am