ON-Lion Letter

Wisconsin's high tax rates could encourage many people to leave the state, particularly high-income residents who pay the greatest share of taxes, according to an August study from the MacIver Institute in Madison, Wis., and the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas.

Calculations show that people moving from Wisconsin to neighboring states -- Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota -- can keep more money in their pockets thanks to better tax climates, finds "Is the Tax Code Driving Taxpayers from Wisconsin?"  Illinois is the only state that shares a border with Wisconsin where taxpayers are always worse off.

Wisconsin has improved its tax climate with income and property tax cuts in recent years.  In fact, state lawmakers have cut taxes by $2 billion since 2011.  However, the study shows the Badger State has a long way to go.

Wisconsin loses $136 million a year in adjusted gross income to other states, totaling nearly $2.5 billion over the past two decades, the report says.  Wisconsinites are leaving for states with lower taxes, like Florida, which does not have a state income tax and the property tax rate is nearly half of the rate in Wisconsin.

"Even with Governor Walker's recent tax cuts, this report shows that we have more to do to make the tax climate better for our hard-working taxpayers," MacIver Institute president Brett Healy said.  "We simply cannot afford to lose this $136 million to other states.  We need a simple, comprehensive tax system that does not push Wisconsinites to move away."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports both MacIver and NCPA.

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