Monday, January 30, 2006

Giving Away Tax Base

Why is is that some legislators so dearly love to give to special interests tax revenue destined for other levels of government?

The Legislature's propensity for doing just that is displayed starkly in s. 70.11 of Wisconsin statutes, which denominates five pages of prtoperty-tax exemptions that the Legislature has bestowed on special interests, many of them worthy, some not so worthy. No wonder property taxes are so high for the rest of us.

The latest effort to cement the Legislature's love affair with tax-exempt groups -- some of them deserving, some not so deserving -- is LRB 4284/1, being circulated by Sen. Dan Kapanke and Rep. Leah Vukmir.

LRB 4284/1 helps out so-called benevolent associations that provide housing to well-to-do senior citizens without addressing the fundamental tax equity issue of giving some old people a property tax break but making other old people pay full freight.

The Kapanke/Vukmir proposal is special-interest legislation aimed at undercutting another bill that hopes to provide a reasonable and generous way of making property tax exemptions available to people of truly moderate incomes and below.

AB 573 would ensure that low-income housing and assisted living won't be taxed. But retired fat cats would have to contribute to their communities just like ordinary people.

Exempting all senior housing from property taxes unfairly penalizes senior citizens who choose to stay in their homes. ANot to mention the effect that exemptions in current law have on the rest of us, incrteasing our property taxes.

The Legislature already has an amended AB 573, a solution to the problem of property taxation on senior housing that adds fairness to existing law and protects the little guy who now falls through the cracks. Why go overboard for special interests?