Last weekend, Jon Peacock from the Wisconsin Budget Project wrote an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that raised some important issues about the need to consider tax fairness in any tax reform discussions in Wisconsin. This issue is especially relevant given recent data from the Census Bureau showing that poverty rates are rising. (Read ITEP's most recent report on this issue.)
The op-ed cited findings in ITEP's Who Pays? that Wisconsin has a regressive tax structure. As the debate over tax reform continues, Wisconsin lawmakers should heed Peacock's advice and improve the state's tax collection process, ensure corporate tax loopholes remain closed, consider broadening the sales tax base, apply the sales tax to products purchased online, and capture a larger share of federal aid.
Taxes are also a hot issue in New Hampshire right now. A forum on tax issues was held by the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth and the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition and featured panelists from non-profits, think-tanks, and local government. ITEP's Who Pays? data was discussed during the forum to make the case for real tax reform in the state.
Cathy Silber from the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition summed it up when she said, "We can cut back on services when the need goes up or costs rise, we can raise revenue sources, we can combine these two options, or we can do nothing."
The decision is important given what's happening to families in the state now. The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute's (NHFPI) recent analysis of the new Census Bureau's data finds that in New Hampshire "the poverty rate appears to have climbed 1.8 percentage points over the course of the economic downturn."