Walker calls for changes to child tax credit, adding sales tax holiday

Gov. Scott Walker today called for changes to his proposed child tax credit that would make it a one-time rebate for parents and add a sales tax holiday that would apply to all Wisconsinites.

The $100 credit per child would apply to all families regardless of income with the checks expected to go out in July. Meanwhile, the one-time sales tax holiday would be the first weekend of August and apply to most purchases of $100 or less.

The revision, part of an agreement with Assembly GOP leaders, would cost $172 million. That includes $122 million for the per-child credit and an estimated $50 million for the sales tax holiday, according to the guv’s office.

The announcement did not include a commitment from Senate Republicans, and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he would meet with his caucus Tuesday to discuss the proposal.

He acknowledged some Senate Republicans had an issue with the sales tax holiday Walker originally included in the 2017-19 budget, but lawmakers nixed. He said that dynamic may have changed now there is a $385 million surplus projected by mid-2019.

“I don’t want to discount it outright and say we’re not going to get there,” Fitzgerald said.

The guv’s office said the exemption would not apply to: the sale of taxable services, prepared food, motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts, tangible or intangible property used to access telecommunications services, tangible or intangible property provided by a utility, or alcohol and tobacco products.

Dems slammed the proposal as a gimmick to curry favor with voters, and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, questioned if it would clear the Legislature since Senate Republicans weren’t part of the deal.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said Walker was trying to prop up his re-election prospects with a one-time “kickback.”

“This is an election year bribe,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. “The Governor might as well save money on postage and just hand these checks out at polling places in November.”

Some Republicans have dismissed past sales tax holiday proposals as gimmicks. But Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, defended pairing a sales tax holiday with the rebate checks. He said the combined proposal would mean all Wisconsinites would see a benefit rather than just those with minor children. What’s more, the checks arriving right before the holiday would maximize the impact of not charging the sales tax before families buy back-to-school supplies.

“Frankly, I am OK with any opportunity we that have to reduce the taxes that people pay in Wisconsin because we are overtaxed, period,” Vos said. “I think this is a creative way to stimulate the economy.”

 

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