An initial estimate by a University of Wisconsin-Madison economist suggests that the top tier of taxpayers — those making more than $100,000 a year — would receive more than half the benefits from Kooyenga's proposed tax cut.
To his credit, reporter Jason Stein then points out:
But the flip side of that estimate is that those same upper-income taxpayers are now paying more than half the income taxes in the state.
"It's nearly impossible to create a tax (rate) cut that doesn't disproportionately lower taxes for upper incomes," said Kooyenga, who wants to take a step to "flatten" Wisconsin's progressive income tax.
Actually, as Kooyenga explains, the top 10% of earners in wisconsin pay fully 50% of the state income taxes.
Stein plays a bit of class warfare by writing that the flattening the of the tax code "would put those with modest incomes, such as a secretary at a law firm, in the same tax bracket with some of the lawyers at the firm."
But is this unfair? If the lawyer earns substantially more than the secretary, he/she will still pay substantially more in state taxes.
Then there is this this hot mess:
The proposal works by lowering tax rates, providing the most benefits to upper income filers who pay the most in taxes, instead of taking other steps such as lowering deductions, which could be targeted more at lower or middle income taxpayers.
"Lowering deductions," is actually a way of raising -- not lowering -- taxes, so it’s not clear what his point is here.
And yes, cutting taxes will tend to benefit people who pay the most in taxes. Cutting gas prices will benefit those who buy the most gas; cutting beef prices will benefit those who buy the most beef.
As the story makes clear, the real problem with the Kooyenga tax reform/cut is not really that it showers the "wealthy" with benefits – it’s that it leaves the politicians with less money to spend. Some of us think that’s a good thing.