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Closing loophole nets tax fairness for Wisconsin businesses, families

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Sen. Russ Decker
March 2, 2009

Wisconsin has taken a big step toward tax fairness by closing the “Las Vegas loophole.” Closing this corporate tax loophole makes companies pay their fair share of taxes while helping prevent cuts to education and minimizing tax increases on individuals.


The Las Vegas loophole allows wealthy corporations to shift millions of dollars to foreign countries and no-tax states such as Nevada to get rid of their entire tax bill. That means small businesses and Wisconsin families have to pick up the tax bill for large, wealthy corporations.


More and more states have decided that this unfair tax shift has to end. Twenty-two other states have closed the Las Vegas loophole because it equalizes taxes between small and large businesses.


Critics claim that ending this loophole will make Wisconsin a bad place to do business. However, job growth during the last 10 years has been almost entirely in states that have already closed this loophole. Of the eight states that had positive growth in manufacturing jobs since 1990, seven had closed the Las Vegas loophole for that entire period.


The fact that the newly combined Miller Coors company chose to locate in Illinois, a state that closed this loophole 20 years ago, instead of Wisconsin reaffirms the studies that show there is no negative correlation between state and local tax costs and a state’s success in attracting business investment. California closed the Las Vegas loophole before 1985 and posted some of the greatest economic growth in the 1990s with the birth of the Silicon Valley.


According to the Department of Revenue, only 13 percent of corporations currently doing business in Wisconsin will be impacted by this change. Most of these are also operating in states that have already shut this loophole. In fact, 41 of the 50 largest manufacturers, nine of the 10 biggest banks and all 15 of the top retailers in Wisconsin already operate in states with combined reporting.


Critics who argue that now is not the time to make this change would like to keep forcing the mom-and-pop businesses and families of Wisconsin to pay the taxes for large corporations. If now is not the time, just how much longer does Big Business think the hardware stores and family-owned restaurants on Main Street should carry the tax burden of Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Pepsi?


Companies have always come to Wisconsin because of our commitment to worker training, a great education system and workers who can compete with anyone in the world. Companies will continue to come to Wisconsin because we will maintain those commitments. The only difference is that because we have now closed the Las Vegas loophole, all of the companies that benefit will now help pay for the worker training and education systems that they rely on to compete.


Sen. Russ Decker, D-Schofield, is Senate majority leader. He can be reached at Room 211 South State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882; phone (608) 266-2502; e-mail Sen.Decker@legis.wisconsin.gov.

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