Middle of the Pack: Wisconsin Typical in Taxes and Fees

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 2:47 PM by

Despite claims that Wisconsin is a high-tax state, Wisconsin is in the middle of the states in most measures of revenue and spending, according to new figures from the Census Bureau. Wisconsin ranked 19th among the states in taxes and fees per person in fiscal year 2011, before the deep spending cuts of the 2011-13 budget were implemented.

Some policymakers focus on Wisconsin’s ranking on taxes alone when evaluating Wisconsin’s revenue structure compared to other states. But focusing on taxes alone means that fees and other charges, which come from residents’ pockets much likes taxes do, are not taken into account.  Combining taxes with fees and other revenue gives a broader and more complete measure of the money that state and local governments in Wisconsin collect from their residents.

The average amount state residents paid in taxes and fees is close to the national average. In 2011, Wisconsin residents paid an average of $6,346 in taxes, fees, and other charges to state and local governments, $34 higher than the national average.  Wisconsin ranked 19th among the states in this measure.

In nearly every measure of revenue and spending, Wisconsin’s rank has dropped significantly over the last decade.  In 2000, Wisconsin ranked 11th among the states in taxes and fees per person, dropping eight places over the next decade.

Wisconsin policymakers who advocate for tax cuts like those made in the most recent state budget, should know that Wisconsin governments are already close to the national average in the amount of taxes and fees they collect from residents. Additional tax cuts could jeopardize Wisconsin’s public investments in our state’s high quality education and health care systems, and make it more difficult to invest in public safety and transportation in our communities.

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