Wisconsin budget committee rejects Evers’ plan to make tax agents permanent

Republican co-chairs of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee Sen. Howard Marklein,...
Republican co-chairs of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee Sen. Howard Marklein, left, and Rep. Mark Born.(Scott Bauer | AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 3:39 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Legislature’s budget-writing committee rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ plan Thursday to make permanent nearly 40 revenue agent positions that are devoted to collecting delinquent taxes.

The 2017 to 2019 state budget established 38 agent positions within the Department of Revenue to focus on collecting unpaid taxes. Under that spending plan, the positions were scheduled to expire in September 2021. The 2019 to 2021 state budget extended the positions through June 2025.

The Department of Revenue estimates the positions help collect about $39 million in delinquent taxes annually.

Evers, a Democrat, included provisions in his 2023 to 2025 state budget that would make the agent positions permanent at a cost of $2.8 million annually.

Republicans who control the budget committee voted Thursday to scrap that plan and extend the positions through September 2025. The move sets up the committee to decide the fate of the positions in the next two years.

Democrats on the committee complained that the decision throws the future of the positions into question, making it harder to recruit to fill them and putting $39 million in tax revenue in jeopardy every year.

Republicans didn’t answer the Democrats, moving directly to the vote without any debate.

Currently, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue uses several methods to enforce tax laws including using revenue law enforcement agents, private collection agencies, payment offsets, and legal action.