Despite Record Spike in Property Values, Tax Levies Lag

The total value of all property in Wisconsin shot up by 13.8% percent this year, the biggest increase in the nearly 40 years since the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum and its predecessors began tracking the trends.

Using tax levies and rates approved for December 2021 tax bills in every Wisconsin county, city, village and town, along with the updated property values that will be used to calculate those bills, Wisconsin Policy Forum researchers found that gross property tax levies imposed by local governments statewide rose by only 1.6%, an increase far below the current 8.3% inflation rate and lower than the growth seen every year since 2014.

As a result, the state’s property tax rates “continued their long-running decline,” the authors found, with the steepest drop since 2005. In 2021, property owners statewide owed $19.60 for every $1,000 of equalized property value. For 2022, they’ll owe $18.64, or 4.9% less.

Tax levies change as a result of changes made by any of the taxing jurisdictions in a given area, including the county, municipality, school district, technical college district, tax increment finance district, special district, and state, all of which set levies within state-established limits.