Share of Wisconsin Paychecks Devoted to Taxes is Shrinking

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:29 PM by

Wisconsinites are paying a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than at any other time in the last 15 years, according to Wisconsin Budget Project analysis of new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau figures.

The share of their income that Wisconsin residents pay in various state and local taxes has dropped by 15 percent over the last 15 years. In 1994, Wisconsinites paid an average of $13.22 in state and local taxes out of every $100 they earned. In 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, that figure dropped to $11.21, as shown in Fig. 1. (Those who are getting this blog post via email may have to adjust your email program’s settings in order to see images.)

Wisconsin’s ranking among the states with regard to taxes and spending has been dropping in recent years. Between 2000 and 2009, Wisconsin fell from 4th to 9th in taxes as a percent of income, and from 8th to 16th in taxes per capita. Wisconsin ranked 20th among the states in total state and local spending per person in 2009 (3.6% below the national average), and down from 13th in 2000.

Legislators continue to point to the need for lower taxes as a reason to roll back public investments in our communities, but this information from the Census Bureau calls that approach into question. Wisconsin residents are already seeing a smaller chunk of their paychecks go towards taxes than any time in recent memory, while the infrastructure and public services they rely on are being damaged by budget cuts. We need a more balanced approach to make sure that city, county, and state agencies have the resources they need to keep our communities safe, healthy, and economically competitive.

The Wisconsin Budget Project analysis of new Census Bureau tax and spending data is available on our website.

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