Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Michels flat tax scheme would make most of us pay more. But he and his rich buddies would love it!

In addition to the vomit-inducing thought of the Tavern League holding a Tim Michels photo op today (mediocre "big fish, small ponders" with 20th Century mentalities unite!), there was this bit of news at the event.

I'll leave the BS about inflation and the personal property tax out of this one (other than the statement being absurdly out of touch with the reality of most Wisconsinites), and take a look at that income tax talk. And it's a specific type of GOP scheme that also seems lost back in the 20th Century.
“I’m going to sit down with all the smart tax people. We’re going to figure out how low we can get the income tax," Michels said when asked if he'd support a flat income tax. "Right now it looks like we can get it to somewhere around 5%.”....

A December report from the conservative Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, which was praised by Republicans including former Gov. Scott Walker and several business groups, broached the idea of increasing the state's general sales tax from 5% to 8% to cover the reduction in tax revenue caused by striking the income tax.

Democrats and groups such as the Wisconsin Budget Project said eliminating the state's progressive income tax while increasing the sales tax would shift the tax burden away from the rich and onto those with low and moderate incomes.
To be fair, Dems and the Budget Project only said that because it is true. And the Koched-up CROWE group never mentioned what spending would have to be cut to make up for the billions that still would have to be made up to account for the gap caused by the 0% income tax and only a 3% raise in the sales tax.

But let's look at Michels' reference of a 5% flat tax. And let's also remember what our current tax brackets are in Wisconsin.

Note that this is taxable income, which doesn't count about $12,000 for single filers and a little over $21,400 for joint filers. But I'll assume that under Michels' scheme, those same exemptions will stay, and we'll start from the taxable income of $0. We will also assume that the brackets will be indexed by 5% inflation next year (I'm being conservative).

What you'll find is that a 5% flat tax would not only raise taxes for lower-income Wisconsinites, but also single filers that make $50,000 a year (or $62,000 overall), and for married couples that make $100,0000 in taxable income (or slightly over $120,000). The crossover points of taxable income are around $100,000 for singles and $150,000 for married couples.

That's the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites losing out under this scheme. And even if you're making well into 6 figures, there is little difference for you under a flat tax. But if you're in an elite income level, you get a big return.

And THAT'S why Tim Michels and GOP oligarch donors his "smart tax people" like this idea. I bet it's even "revenue neutral", because the majority of us end up paying more under this 5% scam.

I would bet Michels doesn't even know this, just like how I'm sure he has zero clue about what shared revenues are and how they fund most local governments in the state. Michels just knows how this falt tax scheme would help rich failsons like him, and that's all guys like him need to care about.


  1. Do you have a source for the bar graphs? They look cut and pasted, and I'd like to share them.

    1. Joe - The bar graphs are all my own from an Excel spreadsheet. I just assumed 5% inflation on current tax brackets for next year. Feel free to use any/all of it.

      That being said, Michels is already backtracking and claiming he won't raise any income tax rates at any level, which means that this would be nothing but a massive tax cut for the rich.