Wisconsin residents are no longer surprised to hear that Wisconsin is ranked among the top ten states in overall tax burden. Many residents have waded through the four page return and examined loopholes and credits only to find that they do not qualify for the special treatment. Wisconsin’s tax code is great if you are producing film, installing a woody biomass processor or opening a meat installation plant, but what about the rest of us?

It’s time to reform the Wisconsin tax code. The tax reform I am introducing this week will cut the Wisconsin tax form from 4 to 2 pages, 20 seldom used and special interest tax credits will be eliminated, and the total number of tax brackets will be reduced to three from the current five brackets. The Joint Finance Committee is headed into the final weeks of reviewing Governor Walker’s budget. The additional revenue estimates, and savings identified by the committee, have resulted a surplus exceeding $740 million. 

The tax reform plan calls for an additional $450 million in tax cuts, which is a fiscally responsible return of tax payer dollars. More importantly, the elimination of certain credits and loopholes result in a fairer tax code, eliminating dozens of injustices that transfer the tax burden from special interests and into Wisconsin’s average tax paying family.

Wisconsin was the first state to enact an income tax in 1911. The complexity of the Wisconsin tax code has exponentially grown as Madison politicians believed the tax code was their magic wand which could be used to accomplish political and social objectives. As a direct result, our tax code picks winners and losers and is one of the most progressive tax codes in the country. 

This tax reform does not cure our tax code of a century’s worth of tampering, but it does make a significant change in the code and cuts rates in a fiscally responsible manner. Will we now be among the top ten best states in overall tax burden? No, but we will no longer be in the bottom ten and as the Wisconsin economy grows we will continue to direct the additional tax revenue into tax relief as opposed to growing the size of government. 

Even before the plan has been released, the critics are already claiming this is a tax break for the rich and will be shouldered by the working class.The fact is the lowest tax bracket is lowered under Governor Walker’s plan and this plan preserves the decreased rates for families making under $14,000.  

The credits eliminated are largely for specific special interests, and the most popular low income refundable credits like the homestead credit and earned income tax credits are protected. The tax reform tax cuts are specifically tailored for Wisconsin’s middle class.   

As we climb out of one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history it is becoming apparent what works and what does not work. 

Wisconsin is not a retirement state, we do not have oil or natural gas resources, and we are not a right to work state. 

Wisconsin’s chance to compete nationally and globally can best be accomplished by tackling our tax code and this reform does just that. 

The time to begin reforming our archaic tax code is now.