Capitol Week-in-Review – September 14, 2017

Budget-Writing Committee Approves Partial Repeal of the Personal Property Tax

Last week, the legislature’s budget-writing committee approved an amendment to the state’s next two-year budget that would result in the most significant reduction in Wisconsin’s personal property tax since 1981 when business inventories and farmers’ livestock were taken off the property tax rolls. The amendment is pending final approval by the Wisconsin State Legislature and Governor Walker.

Beginning with the property tax assessments as of January 1, 2018, the amendment repeals the personal property tax on machinery, tools, and patterns, not including such items used in manufacturing. The amendment also directs the State of Wisconsin to reimburse local municipalities for the loss of revenue resulting from this tax exemption.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, this category of personal property includes the machinery, tools, patterns, dies, jigs, equipment, and implements of commercial warehouses; contractors; heating and air conditioning companies; landscapers, plumbers, repair or fix-it shops; and welding shops. Owners of this category of personal property list them in Schedule C of the Statement of Personal Property.

In 2017, the statewide value of personal property categorized as non-manufacturing machinery, tools and patterns was $3.35 billion. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that the exemption of this category of personal property from taxation will reduce personal property taxes statewide by about $75 million per year.

WIB has been lobbying state lawmakers to end this antiquated and unfair tax on small, independent businesses for the last three years. Our persistence and perseverance has finally been rewarded, but we have more work ahead of us.

For now, we must continue our lobbying efforts to make sure this partial repeal of the personal property tax is approved by the Republican-led Legislature and signed into law by Governor Walker. If we succeed in this effort, we will then turn our attention to repealing the other categories of personal property that are still subject to taxation.

DATCP Offers Guidance on Equifax Data Breach

Last Thursday, Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, reported a data breach that may affect as many as 143 million Americans – nearly 44% of the United States population.

According to Equifax, hackers gained access to certain files between mid-May and late July of this year. Information in the breach includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Some credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and dispute documents (that contain personally identifying information) were also accessed.

Equifax has established a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559 to answer questions about the breach. The call center is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to Midnight. The company has also set up a website that allows consumers to check if their information may have been exposed in the breach.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) advises all affected Wisconsin consumers to take the following additional steps to protect their credit record:

  • Consider placing a free 90-day (renewable) fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting one of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian (888-397-3742), TransUnion (800-680-7289), or Equifax (888-766-0008). When you place a fraud alert with one bureau, that bureau will relay the request to the other two companies on your behalf. A fraud alert warns creditors of potential identity theft victims.
  • Request a free credit report from the three credit bureaus by visiting or calling (877) 322-8228 and check the report for irregularities.

WHEDA Announces New Small Business Financing Tools

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced that new capital funds will be available to help small businesses expand.

The newly-created WHEDA/LRC Wisconsin Business Opportunity Fund totals $5 million and will finance equipment purchases and other types of hard assets for small businesses through the federal New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) program. NMTCs allocated by WHEDA are a resource to help generate job creation and economic development by promoting equity investment in low-income urban and rural communities.

An additional $6.1 million is being made available to support WHEDA’s Participation Lending Program approved in 2012 by Governor Walker and the state legislature. The Participation Lending Program can be used for purchases such as land, facilities and equipment as well as long term working capital.

The $11.1 million of capital for the two new programs is being provided by PNC Bank, Johnson Bank and Milwaukee LISC. A minimum of $3 million will be targeted for the Milwaukee area with the balance available statewide.

For more information on this program, members should contact WHEDA toll-free at 1-800-334-6873.