MADISON, Wis. — As Wisconsin banks have taken over $2.4 billion in taxpayer-financed Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout funds, two of the state’s largest banking lobby associations have joined with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce to fight efforts to close the $75 million-a-year ‘Las Vegas Loophole,’ which helps companies dodge Wisconsin taxes by opening up a post office box in a state without corporate income tax.
“The bankers taketh from the taxpayers, and then they taketh more,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “To be given $2.4 billion in bailout funds from the taxpayers and then team up with WMC to avoid paying their fair share of taxes is repugnant.”
Seven Wisconsin banks have received a total of $2.4 billion in TARP funding according to the public journalism website, ProPublica.org. All seven are also members of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. WBA has joined the Wisconsin Merchant Bankers Association in a WMC-led effort to prevent state legislators from closing the Las Vegas Loophole.
The list of Wisconsin TARP bank recipients totaling $2.4 billion includes:
- M & I Bank $ 1.715 billion
- Associated Banc-Corp $ 525 million
- Anchor BanCorp $ 110 million
- Baraboo Bancorporation $ 20.7 million
- Nicolet Bankshares $ 15 million
- First Manitowoc $ 12 million
- Legacy Bancorp $ 5.5 million
The State Senate will debate legislation Tuesday to ensure workers are paid wages first when a company goes bankrupt. Current law makes it harder for workers to have their wages paid before debts to banks. WMC, WBA and the Merchant Bankers have all registered against the bill.
“These Wisconsin banks have joined hands with WMC to avoid paying taxes while grabbing as much taxpayer bailout money as they can with the other hand,” said Ross. “Hopefully, passage of the wage lien bill is another step towards government working for working families and not the institutions which helped lead us into economic collapse.”