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The mistakes appear to go back to 2009 but it’s not yet clear that the Census Bureau will correct data from previous years, Knapp said.
One thing the correction doesn’t change is how much taxes Wisconsin residents actually paid in 2013 and other years. The corrected figures show that residents in the state paid about 10.9% of their total income in state and local taxes in 2013, or about $4,618 per person, less than the 11.3% of income and $4,833 per person that the Census Bureau data would have suggested.
That means that instead of being 15th in the nation for taxes per capita, Wisconsin actually came in 19th.
That was good news to Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), one of the Legislature’s most committed conservatives, but it didn’t affect his view that the state’s taxes are too high and must come down for the good of families and the economy.
“I don’t think we’re anywhere near the point where we’re ready to declare victory,” Stroebel said. “I wouldn’t even go there.”
Jon Peacock, research director at the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, disagreed. He said the errors helped explain some of the disconnect between Wisconsin taxes, which are traditionally higher than the national average, and the state’s spending ranking, which has usually been lower.
“However, there are also a couple other significant factors. Wisconsin relies less on fees than most other states and historically has ranked low in federal (government) revenue,” Peacock said.
When it comes to spending, he said, Wisconsin is now in the middle of the pack among states.
The problem is that this only has to do with a ranking against other states. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a rising tax burden affects all citizens. The fact that Wisconsin isn’t quite as highly taxed when compared to other states as we thought is good news. It is also good news that Wisconsin’s spending has not been going up as fast as other states… but it is still going up while people’s wages are not going up as fast. We still have a lot of work to do in Wisconsin.