State Lawmakers Push to Eliminate Personal Property Tax

State lawmakers are looking to do away with Wisconsin’s personal property tax.

Republican state Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) is sponsoring legislation to eliminate what he says is a relic of the state’s tax code that unfairly targets small businesses.

“Before the technology and infrastructure existed for the administration of an income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and many other excise taxes and fees, the property tax was the only realistic revenue source government had,” Stroebel told a legislative committee on Wednesday.

Lawmakers heard from a long line of small business owners, who testified on how the tax has made it difficult for them to do business, since they often have to come up with a value to apply to used equipment.

Bud Styer with the Wisconsin Campground Association, who operates 16 parks in the state, said the tax is “all over the board” across the state, and they’ve watched as personal homes, computers, and other items have been exempted. “The pie that used to be a whole pie is now just a sliver,” he said.

It’s estimated eliminating the tax would reduce state revenues by about $261 million, and Democrats on the committee questioned how that might impact state finances. While Stroebel said the legislature’s budget committee would determine cuts in state spending to help cover the lost revenue, Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) said there needs to be more transparency on what those cuts might look like.

“I don’t want to see more cuts to education, we certainly can’t afford more cuts to education,” Ringhand said. “We have a lot of areas where we’re struggling right now, and I’d rather have a stronger answer as to where the money’s going to come from.”