Committee to study possible changes to Wisconsin’s tax code


The Republican chair of a committee studying wholesale changes to Wisconsin’s tax code says he wants to hear about a range of options, including phasing out or replacing the state income tax.

At the first meeting of the study panel, Burlington GOP Assemblyman Robin Vos said he wanted to have an open discussion: learning more about states that were lowering their income tax as well as states that were raising it.

Vos said the committee should consider the mix of state taxes Wisconsin uses to fund government services. But he said he was most interested in the income tax: “Personally, I think it’s too high. I think it’s uncompetitive and it makes Wisconsin less competitive as opposed to the states around us. But that’s my idealogical view. It’s my own personal belief. And I want to make sure we have experts come in here and talk us through that.”

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Both Republicans and Democrats will recommend experts to talk to the committee. Senate Democratic member Kathleen Vinehout was skeptical, however: “There may be a hidden agenda, and that is to either do away with the income tax, greatly lower it or maybe possibly do away with the corporate income tax. But I think there’s also the possibility of doing away with some of the problems in our tax code.”

Vinehout said any discussion of cutting the income tax needed to recognize that it could result in service cuts or in other taxes going up, especially at the local level.

Vos says the committee could vote on recommendations later this year but that it would be up to the legislature and governor to decide whether to pursue anything in 2013. Vos, who wants to be Assembly Speaker, could play a big role in steering that agenda.