In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Wisconsin collected $27.3 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Wisconsin taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1, Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the twelfth highest in the nation for FY 2013 at 11.1 percent—this is 8.percent above the national average of 10.3 percent. As shown in Chart 2, Wisconsin’s tax burden has grown over time by 41 percent to 11.1 percent in FY 2011 from 7.9 percent in FY 1950.
Wisconsin’s high tax burden is driven by a high property tax burden (4.2 percent, 10th highest), individual income tax burden (2.5 percent, 22nd highest), and a high corporate income tax burden (0.4 percent, 16th highest). A lower than average sales tax burden is the only bright spot (1.9 percent, 34th highest).
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Wisconsin—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The Wisconsin counties with the highest local government tax burden include: Oneida County, WI (7.6 percent), Washburn County, WI (7.3 percent), and Douglas County, WI (7.1 percent). The Wisconsin counties with the lowest local government tax burden include: Calumet County, WI (2.1 percent), Richland County, WI (2.9 percent), and Dodge County, WI (3.1 percent).
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.