2015-16 Blue Books
2015-16 Blue Books are a useful summary of information
about our state. These books are printed every session and are
complimentary for every resident of Wisconsin.
If you would like one delivered or shipped to you (no
charge to you), please reply to this email and include your street and
The full content of the book is also available
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It's Tax Time!
Doing our taxes is a task that few of us enjoy, but we all
have to do them. As Americans, we are expected and legally obligated, to contribute
a portion of our income to our governments. While most of us would prefer to
bypass this annual duty, it is a chore that most of us must complete before
This year, Tax Day has been postponed to Monday, April 18, 2016. The usual
tax deadline, April 15 is Emancipation Day, which is a holiday in Washington,
DC. Emancipation Day is the anniversary of the day President Abraham Lincoln
signed the order to end slavery in the United States. It is annually held on
April 16th. However, April 16th is a Saturday, so the official observance was
moved to April 15th, thus moving tax day for all Americans this year.
In fact, Tax Day will be moved for the next three years because of
Emancipation Day. In 2016, Tax Day is Monday, April 18; in 2017, Tax Day will
be Tuesday, April 18th; and in 2018, Tax Day will be Tuesday, April 17.
Despite the fact that we get a couple of extra days this year, it is
recommended that all taxpayers start their taxes early and file well before
the deadline. Whether you are filing yourself or employing the services of a
tax professional, filing early and taking your time will increase your
accuracy and decrease your stress.
In my experience taxpayers who wait until the last minute are much more
vulnerable to making a mistake or forgetting an important part of their tax
filing. Gather your information as soon as you can, make an appointment early
this spring and process your taxes with time to spare.
As you gather your tax documents and receipts, please note that we are all
obligated to pay the Wisconsin use tax on all purchases of goods and services
that we make out-of-state, online or through catalogs that don’t collect a
Wisconsin sales tax. If you have ordered an item from a retailer who did not
collect Wisconsin sales tax, take 5% of the full purchase price and this is
the amount of use tax you owe to the state.
Paying the use tax levels the playing field with in-state, traditional “brick
and mortar” retailers and in-state online businesses such as Lands’ End. For
example, when you purchase an item from Lands’ End, you are automatically
charged the 5% sales tax by the company. However, if you purchase a similar
item from LL Bean, they do not collect this tax and you would owe 5% use tax
to the state.
Your role as a taxpayer plays an extremely important role in the finances of
our state and federal governments. In 2013, Wisconsin residents paid more
than $7 billion in state income taxes and more than $19 billion in federal
income taxes. Beside property taxes, income taxes are the largest tax many of
us pay each year.
The $7 billion contributed to our state’s General Fund makes up 53% of state
government revenue. The remainder of funding for state government comes from sales
tax (35%), excise taxes (12%) - taxes paid when purchases are made on a
specific good, and corporate taxes (7%).
As your State Senator, I am consistently seeking ways to lower and simplify
all taxes, especially income taxes, in Wisconsin. We have already made
significant progress toward simplification by lowering the number of tax
brackets from five to four, reducing tax rates, and eliminating various
loopholes and special deductions. Since 2010, 19 different tax credits have
been eliminated in Wisconsin.
The lower income tax rates we passed in the 2013-2014 budget have already
provided significant, noticeable relief. Last year the amount of income tax
paid by Wisconsin residents decreased by 5.8%, from $7,496,900,000 to
These numbers are significant because the years leading up to this rate
change saw increases of 10% (2010-11), 5.1% (2011-12) and 6.5% (2012-13). But
then, we changed the rates and after several years of increased revenue from
income taxes, a cut in rates is resulting in less money taken out of taxpayer
pockets without a recession causing the decrease.
Last year was the first full year that Wisconsin has been withholding less
from every person’s paycheck; $323 million was budgeted to allow the state to
lower withholding tables. This means that the state has been taking less from
each paycheck over the year, allowing more money to stay with taxpayers
instead of being sent to Madison.
As you prepare your 2015 taxes, I would encourage you to consider a change
that will be effective for your 2016 taxes if you are married. In the
2015-2016 state budget, we fixed the “marriage penalty” in our tax code.
Previously, single filers were able to claim a larger tax deduction than
those who are married and filing jointly. This created a significant
disadvantage to those filing joint taxes as married couples.
For 2016, we increased the standard deduction for joint filers, moving closer
to eliminating this unfair treatment. As with all detailed questions about
your income taxes, please consult a tax professional for advice and
information about how this change will impact you directly.
In Wisconsin, you can file your taxes electronically through the Wisconsin
Department of Revenue (DOR) website: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/wi_efile/.
There are also several organizations that offer free volunteer income tax
assistance for those who qualify. Please call 608-266-2486 for more
information and to locate an organization who may be able to help.
In The 17th Senate District
Sen. Howard Marklein and
Rep. Ed Brooks Receive
Wisconsin Auto Collision Technicians Association Legislator of the Year
for work on Act 93 which gives consumers choice in auto body providers
after an accident
State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Representative Ed Brooks
(R-Reedsburg) were recently presented with Legislator of the Year Award by
the Wisconsin Auto Collision Technicians Association Ltd (WACTAL) on Friday,
January 15, 2016 at Reedsburg Auto Body – 1640 East Main Street, Reedsburg,
Art Krolikowski, owner of Reedsburg Auto Body and a
member of WACTAL, formally recognized the legislators for their work on
Senate Bill (SB) 93 and Assembly Bill (AB) 119, which became Act 93 in
“It took us nearly 10 years to pass this consumer choice bill,” Krolikowski said. “Consumers are now able to use the auto
body shop of their choice, rather than being forced to go somewhere
unfamiliar to them because of an insurance company.”
Act 93 prohibits an insurer that issues a motor vehicle insurance policy that
covers repairs to a motor vehicle from: (1) requiring that repairs must be
made by a particular contractor or repair facility as a condition of that
coverage; and (2) failing to initiate or conclude with due dispatch an
investigation of a claim for repairs on the basis of whether the repair will
be made by a particular contractor or repair facility. (Legislative Council
Act Memo - http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/lcactmemo/act093.pdf)
“I am proud that Rep. Brooks and I were able to move this bill through the
legislative process,” Marklein said. “Thanks to the
hard work and persistence of individual shop owners who are members of the
Auto Collision Technicians Association, people will be able to utilize local
businesses they trust for repairs.”
“Across Wisconsin, auto body businesses work hard to build strong reputations
and relationships with their customers,” Brooks said. “This law further enables
these small businesses to continue providing quality service no matter the
circumstances of the situation. I am honored to be recognized by WACTAL for
helping them to make this law change a reality.”
Howard Marklein (left) receives the Legislator of
the Year Award from Art Krolikowsi, WACTAL member
and owner of Reedsburg Auto Body in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.