Friday, November 3, 2017

Just like DC, GOPs are likely to screw up Wisconsin tax "reform"

I know a lot of the attention will be given to the news about the GOP’s tax plan in DC that was released yesterday, and it should (I’ll have plenty to say about that BS in the coming weeks and months). But this week also included the unveiling of a similar giveaway plan tax reform effort in Madison.
A comprehensive tax overhaul — an elusive pursuit in Wisconsin politics — will be the focus of a new Assembly Republican effort leading up to the 2018 election and 2019 state budget deliberations….

Rep. John Macco, chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, said his committee’s mission for the rest of the session is to study tax law changes.

He offered few details Wednesday and didn’t set a firm deadline for delivering a detailed proposal, but said the goal would be to keep it revenue neutral, meaning lower taxes in one area would be offset by higher taxes elsewhere.

For example, he said, income tax rates could be lower while some sales tax exemptions are eliminated. Transportation taxes and fees will also be scrutinized, he said.
The new GOP “tax reform” group will be split into 4 subcommittees, and will meet throughout the next year to come up with testimony (by GOP invite only?) and formulate plans.

Here’s my question- is Wacko Macco admitting that the last 6 ½ years of GOP tax-cutting and gimmicks in Fitzwalkerstan isn’t working? Why else wouldn’t you just look at stability and minor improvements if your prior “reforms” were working well? HAHAHA! A WisGOP admit trickle-down tax cuts haven't worked? I kid, I kid!

More likely, this just another GOP “shiny object” trick to try to convince the rubes that they “have ideas and change” as an excuse to shovel more money to the rich and other campaign contributors. State Rep. Chris Taylor served on the Ways and Means Committee this session before being recently reinstated to the Joint Finance Committee, and she found the GOP’s plans to be redundant and wrong-headed.
“We don’t need fancy subcommittees and new websites to figure out how to reform Wisconsin’s tax code,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “Rather than a restructured Ways and Means Committee, we should start by repealing large corporate tax giveaways and returning that money to low and middle income individuals and families who need it the most. The priority of my Republican colleagues for the last six years has been to give big corporations and the most wealthy a tax windfall while your average Wisconsinite struggles to overcome stagnate, and in some cases, declining wages. Given President Trump and Congressional Republican’s plan to give more tax benefits to the rich, I’m extremely concerned this ‘restructure’ will only serve to further that priority.”

Along with their announcement today, Assembly Republicans unveiled a new website,, which directly links to President Trump and House Republicans’ tax plan website. The federal initiative is anticipated to target massive tax cuts to the most wealthy and substantially increase the federal deficit. According to recent polling, less than one-third of Americans support this approach…

“State Republicans seem to be going down the ‘more tax cuts for the wealthy’ hole with their federal counterparts,” stated Rep. Taylor. “This is the wrong direction for our state. What we should do immediately is pass Assembly Bill 200, which targets tax relief to our low and middle income families that need it the most. Interestingly, this bill has been sitting in Rep. Macco’s committee since April without receiving a hearing. Any tax reform should start by passing this bill.”

She's so tired of this BS. Aren't you?

I hadn’t heard much about the Dems’ tax plan in Assembly Bill 200, so I took a look at it, and especially dug into
the analysis by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue,
which puts the bill’s provisions into plain language.
The current law top individual income tax rate is 7.65% applied to taxable income exceeding $247,350 for single or head of household filers, $329,800 for married joint filers, or $164,900 for married separate filers. This bill retains the 7.65% rate for taxable income up to $1 million for married joint filers or $500,000 for all other filers. It creates a new 8.25% tax rate that applies to income above those thresholds. As with the other individual income tax brackets, the new bracket is indexed for inflation.

The current law personal exemption allows individuals to reduce their income by $700 for each individual in
the household (filer, spouse, and dependents). This bill creates a new personal exemption for filers and spouses, leaving the current law dependent exemption unchanged. The new personal exemption has a base amount equal to $16,520 for married joint filers or $8,260 for all other filers. Filers with income below a certain threshold ($12,000 for single filers, $20,000 for joint filers, $10,000 for married separate filers, or $14,000 for head of household filers) may claim the new personal exemption base amount. For income levels above the threshold, the new personal exemption phases down to the current law $700 exemption as income increases. Individuals with income above $60,000 for single filers, $100,000 for married joint filers, $50,000 for married separate filers, or $70,000 for head of household filers will retain the current law personal exemption.

The bill also sunsets the current law manufacturing and agriculture credit for individuals, beginning in 2017.
Based on a simulation of the provisions using 2015 individual income tax returns adjusted for income levels and law changes, the bill would decrease revenue by approximately $91.5 million in fiscal year 2018, $57.8 million in fiscal year 2019, and smaller amounts annually thereafter.
So it lowers taxes for single Wisconsinites that make less than $60,000 and married couples that make less than $100,000 (through the higher personal exemption), although that tax break gets smaller as incomes get bigger.

It makes up for that tax relief by eventually getting rid of the Manufacturers and Agriculture Crdit (aka “The Big Givbeaway”), which has been used by several Wisconsin mega-millionaires as a tax break, while running up a price tag well beyond original estimates. It also installs a higher tax bracket on the richest Wisconsinites – $500,000 more single people and $1 million for married couples. That group of Wisconsinites account for less than 1 in 125 tax filers, if you plug in numbers from another LFB analysis in May.

And remember, over the last two budget bills, the state’s Alternative Minimum Tax was eliminated, giving a tax break that overwhelmingly went to those who made more than $200,000 (as this 2015 paper from LFB shows). So raising taxes on the richest Wisconsinites may not end up doing much more than to restore the level of tax those people paid 4 years ago.

One other item to keep in mind as the tax debate goes forward in DC. If the Republican tax plan goes ahead as planned and gets rid of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction for income taxes, then that makes gathering revenue through Wisconsin income taxes a less desirable policy choice, since state residents can’t write that off on their federal taxes (by comparison, property taxes would still be written off in almost all cases).

And if that GOP federal tax plan becomes law, it could be used as a sneaky way for WisGOPs to justify moving to a “low income tax, high sales tax, high property tax” model that we see in many Confederate states. This would further slant Wisconsin taxes toward the middle and poorer classes and away from the rich, making the state tax structure even more regressive than it is today.

Connecting past tax policy with future GOP plans makes me recognize that the ALEC crew can’t be trusted to put together any type of “reform” that would help the everyday Wisconsinite, or in promoting an economy with wage growth and improved prosperity for real people. We gotta call this garbage out every step of the way, and make the typical voter recognize just how badly the GOP wants to sell them out in favor of their donors.

Because the GOPs are signaling that if Americans and Wisconsinites are stupid enough to keep them in power after 2018, we will be taken for whatever tiny amount we have today, and then things will become so slanted that the typical person won’t for years from the inevitable economic mess that occurs. Let’s keep that from happening, shall we?

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