Despite Alternative Minimum Tax, Two Billionaires Don't Owe State Income Taxes
An interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday examines the state income tax liability of several of the richest Wisconsinites and finds that two of the state’s billionaires paid no state income tax in 2010.
I have no reason to doubt their assertions that they were abiding by state tax laws, but that’s of little consolation. As I noted in that article, the fact that a couple of the richest Wisconsinites have no income tax liability suggests that “policy-makers need to take a much closer look at the loopholes in state tax laws, and particularly in the alternative minimum tax. Highly paid CEOs should be contributing to the public expenditures that make it possible for their corporations to prosper."
I hope that closing tax loopholes will be one of the topics considered by a new Legislative Council committee that holds its first meeting on Tuesday, although the direction of that committee is unclear. A couple of the many options mentioned by the committee’s chair, Rep. Robin Vos, include eliminating the corporate income tax and expanding the reach of the individual income tax so no one is exempt. You can find a few comments by Rep. Robin Vos in a brief Wisconsin Public Radio story about income tax reform on Wisconsin Public Radio.
The committee in question, which meets on June 26th at 9:00 a.m. for an “organizational” discussion, is the “Steering Committee on Income Tax.” Its charge is to “conduct information symposia and… develop recommendations, in the form of a committee report, for income tax reform that would improve economic growth for residents and businesses in the State of Wisconsin.”
As I noted in a Budget Project Blog post in late April after the committee was proposed, it’s a different sort of entity than the usual Legislative Council Study Committees that meet during the break between legislative sessions. The study committees contain legislative and public members representing a broad range of interests, and the committee charge and membership are voted on and approved by the members of the Legislative Council. However, this “steering committee” does not contain any public members, and to the best of my knowledge, neither its charge nor its membership was ever voted on by Council members.
You can find the committee’s charge and membership on the Legislative Council website. We will follow its work and provide periodic updates.