The annual reminder of how much in taxes we are paying, Tax Freedom Day, is today.
Nationally, it was yesterday, three days later than in 2013. In Wisconsin, it’s later than only 12 other states, and later than every other Midwest state except Illinois (April 28) and Minnesota (April 29). It’s two days later in Wisconsin than last year, but at least it’s 13th, not 11th, latest this year.
Take a look at the charts on this page to show where Wisconsin compares to other states. One damning statistic shows up in the second chart — every single year between 1981 and 2011, Wisconsin’s per capita personal income has been below the national average, and Wisconsin’s state and local taxes have been higher than the national average. The latter has been as high as number one in 1984 (guess which party controlled the Legislature and the governor’s mansion that year) and as low as seventh in 2006. Not surprisingly, higher-than-average taxes lead to lower-than-average income.
I know people who will say that our government services are superior to other states’ services. In some cases, they’re right. The present and previous school district we’ve lived in would be two of those examples, but those two school districts are, I believe, significantly better than other Wisconsin school districts. (Hint: College-town school districts are usually much better than their neighbors.) Other municipal services where we’ve lived are not better at all, and in one case it made us wonder whether government was there to serve us, or the other way around. Think of the worst teacher, the laziest or most incompetent government employee you can think of, or the politician you wouldn’t vote for if he or she were running against Joseph Stalin, and then remember: your taxes are paying his or her salary.
If you don’t like the service you get from a business you frequent, you can stop patronizing that business. If you don’t like the service you get from your municipality, or your county, or your school district … well, good luck with that. You’ve heard the phrase “taxation without representation”; well, at this tax bite, we’re getting overtaxation and underrepresentation.