Capitol Update Vol 1. Issue 14
AJR 100 "GAAP bill" Passes the State Assembly
On Tuesday, with a bipartisan vote of 69-25, AJR 100
passed the Assembly. AJR 100 is a constitutional amendment
that will require generally accepted accounting principles
(GAAP) to be used for the state’s biennium budget. AJR 100
is currently in the State Senate scheduled for a public
hearing. If the bill passes the Senate this session it will
have to clear both chambers again next session before a
statewide vote can begin to amend the state constitution.
The GAAP deficit has decreased for the first time since
2004. Passage of AJR 100, which requires GAAP to be used for
budgeting purposes, promotes honesty, transparency and sound
fiscal budgeting. It is important that AJR 100 moves forward
so Wisconsin citizens can vote in a referendum to require
the state use the same accounting principles required for
schools, local governments and public companies.
The bill history of AJR 100 can be found
Illinois Budget Comparison
Bad News Budget: IL Gov. Quinn to call for prison, health care
Last year in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn confronted a
$13 billion deficit, including $6 billion in unpaid bills to
social service agencies, schools and contractors. His
solution to the problem included raising
income taxes by an unheard of 67 percent, and borrowing $3.7
billion to fund the pension system.
This fiscal year Gov. Quinn faced $9 billion in unpaid bills
and delivered a budget proposal this week that slashes
Medicaid funding, closes two prisons, shutters state
facilities and cuts to most state agencies. That's on top of
a $83 billion long-term deficit in the state employee
Fortunately, Wisconsin confronted its budgets problems
without massive taxes hikes and cuts to employment. We are
also addressing our long term budget obligations (e.g. AJR
100). We are seeing two distinctly different paths to
prosperity from the Great Recession. Illinois is addressing
their problems with tax hikes, while Wisconsin charts
Did you know that
Illinois has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the
country, because it requires businesses to pay an additional
2.5 percent “personal property replacement” tax on top of a
7 percent base corporate tax rate. Illinois legislators like
to point out that they have a lower corporate tax rate, but
they neglect to mention this additional tax.
In January, Moody’s lowered Illinois’ credit rating, giving
the Land of Lincoln the lowest rate of any state in the
country, including California. There is no state worse when
it comes to a bond rating than the state of Illinois. In
contrast, Moody’s called (Wisconsin’s) budget credit
positive. It is an amazing contrast just a few miles apart.
An excellent summary of the budget solutions between
Illinois and Wisconsin is provided below by the co-chair of
the Joint Finance Committee, Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
Wisconsin state lawmakers erased a $3.6 billion budget
deficit when we balanced our state budget. We increased
Medicaid funding by $1.2 billion in our last budget. We paid
off our old bills and our bond rating is strong. Plus, we
held the line on taxes. The school tax levy is down for the
first time in six years and property taxes statewide saw the
smallest increase in 15 years. We put forth reforms that
will help the state and municipalities balance their budgets
for years to come.
Here in Wisconsin, by the end of the
session, the Assembly will have been on the floor for more
days than each of the last two sessions. During that entire
time, we've focused on job creation. It's estimated 57 jobs
bills passed in our chamber this session with several more
still to come. Plus, it's been a bi-partisan session with
96% of roll call votes including Democratic or Independent
votes. We're setting the right priorities as we pay our
bills, keep our budget in balance and pass job creation
incentives. We're proving that Wisconsin means business.
Additional commentary can be found here in an excerpt from a recent Chicago Tribune
article, titled, Down and out in no time at all.
"Our state is no Greece. But its problem of excessive
debt and an unwillingness to deal with it sound positively
Hellenic to us. The endgame has yet to arrive for Illinois.
Despite its credit-rating downgrades, financial markets have
not given up on it — yet. But if public-pension and retiree
health care costs continue to balloon, and if Illinois keeps
failing to pay its bills, brace yourself for the day of
reckoning and Greek-style sacrifice. Remember that no sacred
cows were spared in Athens' debacle."
article along this theme from the Wall Street Journal is
titled, The Greece Next Door: Illinois gets a credit
downgrade, in contrast to Wisconsin.
On a similar note, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), a
ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, revealed that
the per capita government debt of U.S. citizens is worse
than those of Europe's most economically troubled countries.
WI Department of Revenue (DOR) Frequently Asked Questions
When can I expect my refund?
Since this tends to be the most popular constituent
inquiry, this question is at the top of the list.
Constituents can check on their refund 24 hours a day, seven
days a week by visiting our
website or calling the automated refund line.
Automated Phone Line: 866-WIS-RFND (866-947-7363) or (608)
Due to taxpayer confidentiality laws, DOR is not able to
provide status information directly to your office without a
privacy waiver from inquiring constituents. The easiest and
fastest way to provide status information to your
constituents is to use the online refund status tool.
Remember, e-filing reduces the wait time for refunds from
weeks to a few days.
Where can I get forms?
Visit DORs “Forms” page for more information by clicking
here. Individual income tax forms and
instructions are also available at public libraries
throughout the state.
Over 80% of Wisconsinites e-filed their income tax return
last year, and that trend will likely increase in 2012. In
response to the overwhelming preference for e-filing, DOR is
only mailing forms to those who request them. If your
constituents do not have Internet access or the ability to
visit their local library, they can request a form to be
sent to them by mail by calling (608) 266-1961 and selecting
Is help available?
Yes! DOR's helpful videos are available anytime on our
website. Our Customer Service Bureau is also available
to answer individual tax questions by phone at (608)
266-2772 or via e-mail at
What about in-person assistance?
DOR provides taxpayer assistance (which does not include
form preparation) across the state at our regional offices
located in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison,
Milwaukee, and Wausau. For hours and locations, click
here. DOR staff will also provide taxpayer assistance at
the Janesville Public Library on February 21, March 5 & 19,
and April 2 & 16 from 9:00 A.M. – 2:30 P.M.
If your constituents need assistance preparing their income
tax returns, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs have locations
across the state. VITA/TCE sites help low-to-moderate income
residents, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities
prepare their tax returns for free. For a VITA/TCE site
nearest your district, call 211 from anywhere in
Wisconsin. Taxpayers should check with the VITA/TCE site
prior to arriving to ensure that they will bring all of the
relevant documents needed to prepare their return. Also, if
married and filing jointly, both spouses must be present.
What's new for 2011's tax return?
Some key changes created by the Legislature this session
in effect for the 2011 tax year include:
Health Savings Accounts (2011 Wisconsin Act 1): Wisconsin
now conforms to the federal tax treatment of health savings
accounts (HSA). Eligible individuals may claim a deduction
on their Wisconsin income tax return for contributions to an
HSA. If the contribution is made by an employer (or pre-tax
through an employer’s cafeteria plan), the amount of the
contribution is excluded from the employee’s wages. The
maximum contribution for 2011 is $3,050 for individuals and
$6,150 for families. A $1,000 “catch-up” contribution is
allowed for individuals age 55 and older.
Deferral and Exclusion of Capital Gains Reinvested in
Wisconsin Businesses (2011 Wisconsin Act 32): Wisconsin
taxpayers may defer taxes on long-term capital gains if the
gain is reinvested in certain Wisconsin businesses. Other
capital gains from investment in qualified Wisconsin
businesses, as certified by the Wisconsin Economic
Development Corporation, are excluded from taxation when
held for at least five years and when meeting other
conditions. More information is available
Adult Children Health Insurance Exclusion (2011 Wisconsin
Act 49): Employer-provided health insurance benefits for
adult children under age 27 are now excluded from a parent's
gross income for state tax purposes, consistent with the
federal treatment of these benefits.
Red Cross Tax Checkoff (2011 Wisconsin Act 32): Taxpayers
may now make a voluntary donation to the American Red Cross
for Wisconsin disaster relief via the new income tax
Why is the deadline later this year?
Due to April 15 falling on a Sunday this year and
Washington, D.C.'s observance of Emancipation Day on April
16, the regular deadline to file 2011 individual income tax
returns is April 17, 2012.
Below are items for you to promote and share with your
Privacy Waiver for Constituent Cases: Privacy laws protect
the confidentiality of taxpayers. However, sometimes
taxpayers request that their Legislator work with DOR on
their behalf. Constituents must complete a privacy waiver
form before DOR can speak to a Legislator about their
private tax situation. This form is available at:
http://www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/misc/a-270f.pdf . Please
note, this form is not required if DOR speaks with the
taxpayer directly in response to your inquiry.
Guide for Property Owners: DOR's Guide for Property Owners
provides information about property taxes, including the
assessment process, definition of commonly used terms, and
the appeals process. The Guide is a great resource to share
with your constituents when responding to property tax
questions and is available online at the following link: