Brief

Evers proposes allowing local increases in sales tax

By: - February 12, 2021 12:52 pm
Gov. Tony Evers gives his State of the State speech 1/12/21 (screenshot via YouTube)

Gov. Tony Evers gives his State of the State speech 1/12/21 (screenshot via YouTube)

Community leaders and residents could soon choose to raise county and local sales taxes by 0.5%, if a budget proposal by Gov. Tony Evers is approved. 

Wisconsin’s sales tax is 5% and under current law counties have the ability to impose an extra 0.5% tax. 68 of 72 counties have enacted the sales tax increase. The Evers proposal would allow counties to enact an additional 0.5% tax, bringing the sales tax to 6%. 

Cities with populations of more than 30,000 would also be able to enact an additional 0.5% tax.  Twenty-seven cities would now have the ability to raise funds through the sales tax

Any sales tax increase would need to be approved in a local referendum. 

“From the unexpected costs of the COVID-19 pandemic to the years of neglect and underfunding from the state, communities across Wisconsin have been under immense budgetary pressure, and they’ve been doing more with less for far too long,” Evers said in a statement. “The state should be setting the floor, not the ceiling, for local partners, and Wisconsin taxpayers should have a say in whether they want their communities to have more resources so their local government can keep providing critical services — that’s pretty simple stuff. Our proposal puts the question back in the hands of the folks best positioned to make decisions for their community — local leaders and the people who live there.”

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Of the 45 states that have statewide sales taxes, Wisconsin has the second lowest tax rate — when weighted for population. Wisconsin also currently has the lowest sales tax rate of any of its neighbors. 

After Evers announced his proposal, municipal leaders from across the state expressed support, touting the idea as an increase in local control. 

“I’m thrilled to see [Evers] include a municipal sales tax option in his biennial budget, and I thank him for listening to the voices of local leaders across the state,” Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich said on Twitter. “Giving us the flexibility to access this funding source with the approval of our voters will enable communities like Green Bay to meet the 21st century needs of our residents by reducing our reliance on property taxes, paying down debt, providing essential public safety services and investing in future-focused infrastructure.”

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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.

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