Future tax cuts
A commentary by Matt Pommer.
Nine new or expanded tax cuts - one of the largest of them for industry - take effect this year. They will have an impact as Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature prepares the state's 2013-15 budget.
The start of a nearly total phase-out of income taxes for manufacturers and agricultural producers will reduce state revenue by $102.2 million over the next two years.
The tax credit is being phased in over four years and can be claimed through either the individual or corporate income tax. The corporate income tax has been 7.9 percent and by the end of the four-year phase in it will be .4 percent.
"A business with $1 million in taxable income would see its taxes drop from $79,000 to $4, 000," notes the Wisconsin Budget Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
"When the credit is fully phased in, businesses will be paying an estimated $129 million less in income tax each year," it said in a recent report. "The cumulative 10-year cost of the credit is $874.5 million." Employers won't be required to hire additional workers.
Individuals also will be seeing expanding income-tax deductions. The deductions for the employee's share of health insurance will rise from 45 percent for 2012 taxes to 100 percent due in 2013 and thereafter under current law.
The deductions can be made regardless of whether the taxpayer itemizes or used the standard deduction, the report said.
The provisions were initially enacted as part of the 2007-09 state budget but the phase-in was delayed as the nation's economy soured.
The higher deductions for the employee health-insurance premiums will reduce state-collected revenues by $114.3 million in fiscal 2013, according to the new report.
Other new tax deductions include credit for electronic medical records, a doubling of deductions for child-care expenses, a credit for expanding a dairy farm, allowing companies to shift prior losses to the state with the most favorable treatment, a credit for biodiesel fuel and a tax credit for hiring disabled veterans.
The tax analysis comes amid reports that Gov. Walker will propose reductions in the individual income tax - again phased in over several years. The governor's proposal would be part of the biennial budget he will send to the Legislature.
The budget policy paper notes that phased-in or delayed tax reductions "are easier to enact than cuts that go into full effect immediately because the revenue impact is not felt until later down the road.
"But when the full cost is realized, legislators must either reduce spending or find other sources of revenue," the report emphasized. "Additional or expanded tax breaks are already scheduled for future years. Income taxes on manufacturers will plunge in coming years, meaning that an important sector of Wisconsin's economy will be all but exempt from paying income taxes."