ROOT – “I’ve heard a lot about our manufacturers and some in our tech industryâ¦ can we please repeal the personal property tax so we can let our manufacturers do more?” Racine County executive Jonathan Delagrave asked a panel of six state lawmakers on Wednesday.
Personal property tax has existed for more than 170 years. Companies pay it continuously on things like furniture, tools, and equipment as long as they’re in use.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats are fans of personal property tax, but they disagree on how to get rid of it. So, despite the bipartisan disgust, the personal property tax remains indefinitely.
One proposal, then another
Republicans passed a tax elimination earlier this year, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed.
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Democrats said the Republicans’ proposed tax cut had “unintended consequences,” primarily the loss of millions in tax revenue owed by utility companies without a plan in place to replace those lost funds.
Evers unveiled its own proposal to get rid of the tax in September. He said his proposal addresses those concerns by repealing the railroad personal property tax and creating a credit to maintain the state’s entire transportation fund; continued payments for rail terminals to cities; and clarify the language so that the repeal does not affect an applicant’s eligibility for the manufacturing and agricultural credit.
âThe goal of eliminating personal property tax, while preserving local governments, has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,â said State Representative Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, in favor of the proposed repeal of Evers. âThe longevity of the personal property tax and the constant exclusions have created an administrative burden for small businesses and local governments. “
Republicans responded by saying that what Democrats have proposed is not a tax cut at all, but simply changes from which taxes would be collected.
Wittke and Neubauer
Here’s how state representative Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, responded to Delagrave’s question, which was posed during a legislative panel hosted by Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce on Wednesday at DeKoven Center, 600 21st St.
âAB 641 is a bill that has been introduced, has the support of many businesses across Wisconsin and groups that have advocated for the repeal of personal property tax for years,â said Neubauer. On the Republican proposal that Evers vetoed, she said that “there were concerns about this bill, the main one from me (and) the town of Racine was that it didn’t there was no replacement for local governments which would lose resources if we repealed the personal property tax. as was suggested earlier this session. What we have now is a clean bill … It supports local governments to be healed. It does not have some of the additional issues that were unforeseen in the original bill. This bill is ready to be programmed now and if passed by the legislature, the governor would sign it. “
The bill was not put to a vote. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos R-Rochester, who was also on the panel, would be the one who could put the bill on the agenda to be voted on by the Assembly.
Vos didn’t answer Delagrave’s question directly, but State Representative Bob Wittke of R-Wind Point did.
Wittke said the original proposal needed to be “fixed” and accused Evers and the Democrats of playing politics.
âWhat I want people to understand is that this (the Democrats’ proposal) isn’t really a property tax repeal. All it does is change which hand that money comes out of. So instead of collecting it locally from you, we should take it on at the state level, âWittke said. “The fact that the governor vetoed it (the repeal proposed by the Republicans) and now wants to come back with a bill that is supposed to fix everything?” I strongly doubt that the bill will go any further than it currently is. “
After Democrats tabled their proposal three months ago, lead author of the Evers bill vetoed in July State Senator Duey Stroebel R-Saukville accused the Democratic governor of to have “added poison pill provisions to appease the left and serve as political cover.” for those who are not careful. Stroebel cited wording in the bill regarding specific industries such as manufactured homes and outside advertisers, as well as a property tax exemption for air carriers. The bill also includes an annual increase in aid from local governments, Stroebel said. State aid to local governments in Wisconsin has been declining steadily for decades.
Report by Mitchell Schmidt of Lee Newspapers is included in this article.