The Poor Pay More

If you think €”based on all the complaining the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and WMC does about Wisconsin’€™s tax climate forcing out the wealthy and their corporations (eg. members of their boards)’€”that the tax ‘€œburden’€ in our state was somehow being shouldered more by upper class individuals than by the middle- and lower class individuals, then you’€™d be wrong. New analysis sheds some intense light on the myths strewn throughout the news by WISTAX and WMC. From the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families press release:

‘€œNo one would ever design an income tax with lower tax rates for the best-off taxpayers,’€ noted [Matthew] Gardner. ‘€œBut that is exactly what Wisconsin’€™s tax system overall does: it allows the very wealthiest individuals to contribute less of their income, on average, than middle- and lower-income families must pay. In other words, Wisconsin has an unfair, regressive tax system.’€

The main reason for the unfairness of Wisconsin taxes is the state’€™s reliance on regressive sales and excise taxes, which fall disproportionately on the worst-off families, and on property taxes. The state’€™s one progressive tax, the income tax, is not enough to offset the unfair impact of these other taxes.

The details in the new report from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy are alarming and fly in the face of everything WISTAX and WMC want you to think when you think about Wisconsin’€™s tax climate.

But the strategy of pro-corporate groups like WISTAX and WMC of criticizing Wisconsin’€™s tax climate for forcing companies out of the state while simultaneously ignoring the specifics is nothing new. Recall the Mercury Marine saga, when the media went along with the conservative talking point that high taxes had forced the company to consider re-locating to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, research from the Institute for Wisconsin’€™s Future was getting underway that would eventually show Mercury Marine’€™s parent company, the Illinois-based Brunswick Corporation, ‘€œhas been heading for trouble for several years.’€

And as Robert highlighted earlier:

But guess who’€™s done really well since 2005? Brunswick CEO Dustan McCoy! Since he took over in 2005, right as Brunswick started shedding jobs and losing money, McCoy has taken over $10 million EVERY YEAR. Five senior board members also received an average of $506,000 each year. So while they drive the company into the ground, these fat cats are grabbing as much cash as they can get their hands on. Sick.

It’€™s high time the media start paying attention to the progressive side of stories and stop falling for the same tired conservative talking pushed by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.