July 29, 2014

Wisconsin ranks fifth for smuggled smokes

About one of every three packs of cigarettes sold in Wisconsin are either counterfeit or are not taxed properly, according to the Tax Foundation. The groups says the Badger State is the nation’s fifth-largest importer of smuggled cigarettes.

A new report from the group says 34.6 percent of Wisconsin’s cigarettes were not taxed, were taxed improperly, or were counterfeit. New York is the highest, followed by Arizona, New Mexico, and Washington state.

Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation blames the new smuggling on a big gap between low-tax and high-tax states. Three of every five states have raised their cigarette taxes to discourage smoking. Wisconsin increased its cigarette tax from $0.77 a pack to $2.52 between 2007 and 2009, while many neighboring states have seen slower increases. Illinois’ cigarette tax is currently $1.98, outside of the Chicago area.

Henchman says those policies often have “unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits,” such as encouraging counterfeit tax stamps, fake versions of legitimate cigarette brands, trucks that are hijacked, and officials who look the other way.

Assessing impact of tax cuts

Governor Scott Walker signed his package of tax cuts into law in a ceremony at a Shawano County farm on Monday. It includes more than $500 million in property and income tax cuts. The governor’s office has said that the average Wisconsin homeowner can expect to see $100 reduction in 2014 property taxes.

The bill also adjusts withholding for state income taxes. Beginning in April, a typical household with two working parents can expect to see $55 in their paychecks, according to Walker.

The tax cuts were proposed after the state reported a surplus of more than $900 million. When it comes to assessing the impact of the tax cuts, Todd Berry with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says it’s important to remember that things can change.

“When we went into recession in 2008, about $800 million of expected tax revenue disappeared in a matter of months, if not week. Surprises can come rather quickly,” Berry said. “The thinking is that we will now end this biennium with a surplus of a little over $100 million, which to be honest is a lot to the average person but in a budget of $15 billion it’s not much of a cushion.”

 

 

 

Study: soda tax doesn’t impact obesity

Soda taxes don’t lead to lower obesity rates. That’s the finding of a study by UW Madison sociology professor Jason Fletcher. He said higher soda prices might lead to fewer purchases, but that’s not the end of the story.

“They they drink other high calorie beverages which could even include something like orange juice, which could even include something like orange juice, which has very similar calories to soda,” Fletcher said. “In doing that switch from soda to even orange juice, they have the same daily calorie intake, and therefore we didn’t find any effect on obesity.

Fletcher said the study focused mainly on small soda taxes that are being proposed across the country. He also looked at a couple of examples of high soda taxes from the 1990s in Arkansas and Ohio. “We found very little evidence to support that even these relatively big taxes seem to affect obesity,” he said. “Big soda taxes may reduce soda consumption, but people seem to drink other high calorie drinks when they change from soda. They don’t all go drink water.”

Some people might not know that Wisconsin has a form of a soda tax, Fletcher said, because most food in the state is not taxed. “Wisconsin moved soda back into the sales tax,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a hidden way to tax soda without it being really clear that you’re taxing soda. Wisconsin is one of the state’s that has about a five percent soda tax.”

WHBY

 

Walker signs $504 million tax cut plan

Governor Walker signs tax cut bill into law (PHOTO: Courtesy of governor's offic)

Governor Walker signs tax cut bill into law (PHOTO: Courtesy of governor’s office)

The governor signs his half billion dollar tax cut plan into law this morning at a farm in Cecil, near Shawano.

Under the so-called Blueprint for Prosperity, the state would, among other things, return $504 million to Wisconsin taxpayers over the next two years, by way of property tax cuts, income tax cuts, and reduced state income tax withholdings.

The tax cuts are a result of the state’s nearly $1 billion surplus. A typical homeowner will see a reduction of more than $100 on their next property tax bill.

Governor Scott Walker also adds more than $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

In a statement following the bill signing at Horsens Homestead Farms northwest of Green Bay, Governor Walker made the following comment:

“This is a great day for the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin. Signing this bill means lower property taxes and lower income taxes, in addition to our withholding changes which mean more money to take home in each paycheck. This is a stark contrast to the fiscal house we inherited. Now, instead of billion dollar budget deficits, we have a surplus – and today that money is on its way to the workers, parents, seniors, property owners, veterans, job creators, and others. You deserve to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible – because after all, it is your money. Thanks to bipartisan support of our Blueprint for Prosperity, we are moving Wisconsin forward.”

Democrats argue the money could be better spent elsewhere or saved.

The governor first outlined his tax cut plan in his 2014 State of the State address in January. Lawmakers recently passed the amended plan (SB-1) in a special session of the legislature.

Walker to sign $504 million tax cut plan

The governor signs his half billion dollar tax cut plan into law this morning in Cecil, near Shawano, northwest of Green Bay.

Under the so-called Blueprint for Prosperity, the state would return $504 million to Wisconsin taxpayers, by way of property tax cuts, income tax cuts, and reduced state income tax withholdings.

The tax cuts are a result of the state’s nearly $1 billion surplus. Governor Scott Walker also plans to add more than $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

Democrats argue the money could be better spent elsewhere or saved.

The governor first outlined his tax cut plan in his 2014 State of the State address in January. Lawmakers passed the amended plan in a special session of the legislature.