Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Governor’s education budget boosts property tax relief for non-residents

Andrew Reschovsky Andrew Reschovsky

Governor Scott Walker's budget would lower property taxes for the typical Wisconsin homeowner by allocating an additional $211 million of state spending to the School Levy Credit.

However, only about half of any increase in the credit would provide Wisconsin homeowners reduced property taxes on their primary residences, according to a study of the School Levy Credit by La Follette School economist Andrew Reschovsky.

"The School Levy Credit provides property tax relief to all owners of property located in Wisconsin, regardless of whether they are residents of the state," says Reschovsky, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. "In practical terms, this means that under the governor's proposal, a large part of the property tax break goes to owners of commercial and industrial property and out-of-state owners of vacation homes."

"While these individuals and businesses might welcome a tax break," Reschovsky notes, "providing non-homeowners with property tax relief comes at the cost of less spending on public education."

In his study, which was published in State Tax Notes in February 2010 and as a La Follette School working paper, Reschovsky also found that "on a per student basis, the benefits of the School Levy Credit are much greater in property-wealthy school districts than in property-poor school districts."

Reschovsky has been interviewed by Wisconsin newspaper journalists about the state budget and was the guest for an hour of the Joy Cardin Show on February 4, the morning after the governor's budget address.