MADISON, Wis. — A representative of the state big business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce declared they welcome a debate over a massive state tax loophole projected to send over $161 million to 1,270 people earning over $1 million next year. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross replied, “invitation accepted.”
“We’ll debate whoever the state big business lobby wants to send about this appalling giveaway of hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to a handful of multimillionaires anytime, anywhere,” commented Ross. ”Perhaps the 11 people making over $35 million next year who’ll rake in over $21 million would like to join in. I’m sure I’m not the only one of the rest of Wisconsinites not getting this tax break on our taxes eager to hear them explain why we should be giving them our money instead of investing it in our schools, our roads and our communities.”
According to a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, in 2017 the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit will be claimed by 10,320 individuals and the average credit will be $20,261. An income breakdown of claimants in the memo reveals that just 11 taxpayers earning in excess of $35 million will reap a $21 million-plus windfall. In total, 77 percent – or over $161 million – of the $209-million loophole will find its way into the pockets of 1,270 earners who make over $1 million.
The tax break was literally included in the 2011 state budget in the middle of the night and the cost to the state is now twice as much as was originally estimated, ballooning to $736 million over 5 years. Ross also noted that in the light of day, data is showing not only is the giveaway not an effective economic development measure, it is hurting the ability of the state to pay for priorities like education, roads and public safety.
He concluded, “What Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the legislature have done is madness. They’re willing to give 1,270 multimillionaires $161 million of our money next year and at the same time oppose something like the Higher Ed, Lower Debt plan that would not only help hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers refinance their loans, just like you can a mortgage, but would also provide borrowers a middle class tax break.”