Wisconsin sees sizable decline in taxes paid as share of income

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


Taxes paid by Wisconsinites as a share of personal income have fallen in the last two decades by more than two percentage points, one of the largest decreases of any state.

Taxes took up 10.3% of Wisconsinites’ income in 2017, a slight increase from 10.2% in 2016, the latest U.S. Census Bureau data show. Despite that uptick, the state took a modest step forward compared to its peers around the country, with Wisconsin’s ranking dropping to 19th highest in 2017 from 16th highest in 2016.

The most common way to compare taxation in Wisconsin to other states is to calculate taxes paid here as a share of personal income received by state residents, which reflects their ability to pay for the costs of public services.

A look at this measure over time shows 2017 taxes (10.3% of income) fell from the 11.5% they took up in 2007 and 12.4% in 1997. Wisconsin’s tax ranking among the 50 states also fell from seventh highest in 1997 and 16th highest in 2007.

The 16.7% decrease since 1997 in the share of income going to state and local taxes in Wisconsin was the eighth-largest among all states and the second-largest in the Midwest, behind only Indiana.

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. Learn more at wispolicyforum.org.