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Using Veto Power, Walker Expands Sales Tax Holiday, Child Tax Credit

Gov. Scott Walker Signs Bills Into Law Tuesday

Scott Walker bill signing
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs a bill in June 2015. Jeffrey Phelps/AP Photo

Gov. Scott Walker signed a one-time, $100 child tax credit and late-summer sales tax holiday into law Tuesday, using his veto pen to expand the sales tax holiday from two days to five days.

Under the new law, Wisconsin parents will be able to claim $100 for every child under 18 years old living at home as of Dec. 31, 2017. The sales tax holiday from Aug. 1 to Aug. 5 will exempt some purchases from state sales tax.

“We, at a time when we had a bigger than expected surplus, thought that this was the best, most effective, most efficient way to get those dollars back in the hands of hardworking taxpayers,” Walker said at a bill signing event in Waukesha.

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The state Legislature approved the deals in March, after some disagreements over their cost between the state Senate and Assembly.

The tax breaks are being paid for by higher-than-expected tax collections. Under the deal approved by the Legislature, the sales tax holiday was projected to cost the state about $11.8 million.

Gov. Scott Walker, left, with employees of Blain’s Farm and Fleet at the store in Waukesha on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, just before a bill signing. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Walker used his veto power Tuesday to expand the holiday by three additional days, bumping the cost to $14.8 million.

“It’s not a sizeable difference,” Walker said. “We think for a fairly minimal cost it allows more families, particularly for those families where moms or dads or grandparents, other family members, might be working on the weekend, (it) gives them a few more days to get into the store.”

The sales tax holiday applies to school supply purchases of $75 or less, clothing where each item is $75 or less, computers where each item is $750 or less, and computer supplies where each item is $250 or less.

Walker also used his veto power to expand eligibility for the child tax credit to grandparents and other family members who are primary caregivers.

“This makes sure that every one of those households is eligible to receive $100,” Walker said. “We thought for a fairly modest change … it was the right thing to do to help those families.”

He said Tuesday that expansion increases costs only slightly. The cost to the state is estimated to be about $122 million.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who was present at the signing, said some lawmakers may have concerns with the governor’s vetoes, but that she supported the changes.

“I think that’s a great thing,” Darling said. “It expands the accessibility, and I’m all for it.”

Democrats have criticized the tax deals since their introduction early this year as “election year ploys.”

“Good policy is always good politics,” Walker responded Tuesday.

The child tax credits will be available for redemption on a state Department of Revenue website from May 15 through July 2. The state will announce more details about that before May 15.

Walker’s office says those who claim the rebate will receive the money before school starts in the fall. Recipients will have the option to receive it through a check in the mail or direct deposit.

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