Wisconsin is not at the center of the nation?s financial markets nor its commodity markets. Current behavior relating to a sales tax exemption proposal in the state Capitol proves we are not ever likely to be. If the issue does not involve the price of milk and cheese, we just apparently don?t get it.
I use the word ?we? because Wisconsin is my home and I have a personal as well as a professional stake in how my state acts.
There has been an effort made by some individuals in Wisconsin to bring our tax policy in line with 29 other states as it relates to how transactions in the coin and bullion market are taxed.
The proponents began their effort in May and determined that getting something put into the budget bill was the way to fly. While technically this could be the most rapid way of getting something done, the budget bill is not a vehicle where the necessary re-education of state legislators and the governor?s office can take place. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the governor?s office noticed that the supporters of the sales tax exemption were primarily in the opposite party and decided to turn the issue into a political football, claiming the exemption benefited primarily coin dealers and collectors and cost the state $250,000 in lost sales tax revenue. In a budget proposal of almost $60 billion, the action is cheap politics in every sense of the word. In the governor?s defense, it doesn?t involve cheese.
The same governor likes to fly around the state, drop in and conduct photo ops with facsimile checks for the purpose of economic development that would keep jobs within the state.
It apparently never occurred to him what the possibilities are. National coin collectors and dealers were in Milwaukee last month, filling the convention center, hotels and restaurants and spending lots of money. This money helps keep and create jobs in that city. There might be more where that came from, but our convention doesn?t involve cheese.
It also apparently didn?t occur to him to check the tax policies of neighboring states. Chicago is the heart of the commodity trading business on futures markets. Illinois has a sales tax exemption for coins and bullion. Of course, though, this doesn?t involve cheese.
Michigan, and Iowa, two of our other neighbors also exempt coins and bullion transactions from state sales tax. Only Minnesota does not. Of course, this doesn?t involve cheese.
Our dairy farmers want the highest price for their milk. It apparently hasn?t occurred to the governor that gold bullion investors and rare coin buyers will want the same. They will take their investment transactions beyond the state?s borders to avoid a 5.5 percent financial haircut, thereby helping to pay for the trading infrastructure in those other states.
I expect further attempts will be made to pass a sales tax exemption into law. It is up to us in this state to help educate the legislature and the governor.
I don?t expect the governor to ever drop by in a state airplane with an economic development check for Wisconsin?s coin dealers or those businesses that work with them. We aren?t glamorous. We aren?t threatened by Chinese imports. Most importantly, we aren?t cheese.