Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Student’s research on tax incremental financing published

Lily Schultze, Rachel Ramthun, and Mikhaila Calice Lily Schultze, Rachel Ramthun, and Mikhaila Calice

The Wisconsin Policy Forum recently published a paper on tax incremental financing (TIF) by La Follette School student Rachel Ramthun. She is the Todd A. Berry Graduate Research Fellow for the Policy Forum.

Between 2007 and 2017, Wisconsin municipalities used $4.1 billion of new property tax revenues derived from TIF districts to support private development and public infrastructure within those districts, the paper said. Municipalities use TIF to encourage private development, and they are doing so more than ever before.

According to Legislative Fiscal Bureau data, municipalities used $472 million in TIF Funding alone in 2017. This is a 25 percent increase over 2007 after adjusting for inflation. These data only go through 2017, and notably, do not include a massive TIF investment in Racine County for a development there by Foxconn Technology Group, the report said.

In 2018, 6.4 percent of Milwaukee’s property tax base was in TIF districts, which matched the statewide average and more than tripled the city’s rate in 2000. The city of Kenosha used TIF most intensively (10.4 percent) while Madison, Racine, and Eau Claire used it the least.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum was created January 1, 2018, when the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum and Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance merged. The statewide organization that researches, analyzes, and communicates information about the finances, performance, and relationship of state and local governmental bodies in Wisconsin to enhance government efficiency and educate citizens and taxpayers.