Tim Michels says open to flat income tax for Wisconsin

BARABOO — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels signals he is open to enacting a flat income tax in Wisconsin, but would not pursue a plan if he raised taxes on residents with the highest incomes. down.

“I’m going to sit down with all the smart tax guys, we’re going to figure out how far we can get income tax,” Michels said. “Right now it looks like we could get it somewhere just under 5%. If you had a flat tax at that figure, the tax level would actually go up for those in the income bracket the lowest. I don’t want to raise taxes on anyone.”

Michels, a wealthy construction executive who is co-owner of Michels Corp., made his comments to reporters on Tuesday at the Square Tavern in downtown Baraboo where he hosted a campaign event to celebrate the endorsement of the powerful Tavern League of Wisconsin.

Paul Salzwedel, owner of Tall Paul’s in Ripon, said the group endorses Michels, having previously endorsed Michels’ main opponent, Rebecca Kleefisch, due to incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order. bars mostly closed across the state for two months in the spring of 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m here to tell you this is the right guy at the right time,” Salzwedel said at the event.

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Wisconsin income tax rates start at 3.54% and go up to 7.65%. Republicans who control the state legislature over the past decade have focused their tax rates on the middle brackets, but have largely left in place the top rate, which is levied on individuals on income of $267,000 and over.

Evers has supported progressive income taxes, as have fellow Democrats who argue that those who earn more should pay a greater share of their income to the state.

As governor, Evers signed two rounds of Income tax cuts signed by Republicans. He touted tax cuts after pledging in his 2018 race to cut middle-class income taxes by at least 10%.

“Governor Tony Evers is focused on cutting costs for working families and helping them keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. That’s why he signed an income tax cut by 15% for most Wisconsin residents and has pledged to cut income taxes another 10% in his second term,” Evers campaign spokeswoman Kayla Anderson said. , in a press release.

“Tim Michels doesn’t have a serious plan, he’s just looking for excuses to pass off massive tax cuts, while leaving working families behind.”

Michels’ 2020 tax records show he owed $3.7 million in state income taxes – an amount that suggests he reported income in the tens of millions of dollars that year. Evers earns about $152,000 a year as governor. In 2020, Evers owed $11,900 in income taxes.

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Wisconsin was the first state to impose an achievable income tax in 1911. The federal government adopted its current income tax system two years later.

Thirty-two states have graduated income taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. Eleven states have flat income taxes and seven have no income tax.

Minnesota income tax rates start at 5.35% and go up to 9.85%. Illinois has a fixed income tax rate of 4.95% and Michigan has a fixed income tax rate of 4.25%.

Iowa income tax rates start at 0.33% and go up to 8.53%. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed legislation that give the state a lump sum tax 3.9% in 2026.

Michels promised “massive tax reform” if elected governor, but did not release details of his positions or respond to questions about the policies he would pursue aside from eliminating the property tax of individuals, which is levied on companies for their equipment and furniture.

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Republicans who control the Legislative Assembly and Evers have both proposed plans to end personal property taxes, but could not agree in 2021 on how to do so.

Michels said on Tuesday that he “will sit down and we will figure out what is the best tax reform for Wisconsin.”

“Wisconsin will become more competitive with other states, more young people will want to stay here, more businesses will want to locate here,” he said.

Contact Molly Beck at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @MollyBeck.

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