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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tax (Un)Fairness in the News. Kind of.

When the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance or Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce release studies showing how awful the tax burden is for Wisconsin citizens, families, or businesses, those stories end up on the front page (sometimes the front of the metro section) with big giant headlines and scary pull-quotes like, "The sky is falling!" or "Cut my taxes now or the dog dies! I'm serious!" (Try this one, for example, and this one, and, from just a couple weeks back, this one.)

But when a study comes out showing that Wisconsin is not necessarily the tax hell that sells newspapers, where does the story go? Page D3:
More than two-thirds of corporations filing income tax returns with Wisconsin in 2003 owed the state nothing, according to a study released Monday.

The information came from an analysis of data compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, said Jack Norman, research director of the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, who did the study.

"It is no secret to the Wisconsin business community that their taxes are low," Norman said in a speech at Milwaukee's Central Library. He repeated the presentation Monday in Madison and Spring Green.

According to the data Norman presented, 67% of the 54,644 corporations that filed returns in 2003 paid no income taxes. That is the last year for which complete data are available, and Norman produced the Revenue Department tables upon which his conclusions were based.
So tell me again why they sky is falling?

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