Most major state taxes are administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, except property taxes which are local levies.
Wisconsin State Tax ― Individual Income Tax
The individual income tax is Wisconsin’s largest tax, accounting for over 50% of the state’s total revenue collections. It is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and it applies to the taxable income of full-year residents, part-year residents and nonresidents. Tax rates vary from 4.60% to 7.75%, depending on an individual’s income level and marital status.
Full-year residents are taxed on income from all sources. Nonresidents are taxed only on income received from Wisconsin sources. Part-year residents are taxed on income from all sources during their time of residency ― during the time they were not a resident of Wisconsin, they are taxed only on the Wisconsin-sourced income.
Taxable income (from Wisconsin sources) includes the following:
- Wages, salaries, commissions, and other compensation
- Rents and royalties from tangible property located in Wisconsin
- Gains or losses from sales (or other disposition) of tangible property located in Wisconsin
- Profits or losses from businesses, professions, and farm operations conducted in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin state lottery winnings; Pari-mutuel wager winnings and purses
- Winnings from a casino or bingo hall located in Wisconsin (operated by a Native American tribe or band)
- Income derived from a covenant, to the extent the covenant was based on a Wisconsin-based activity
Filing requirements are based on each individual’s filing status, age (as of the last day of the tax year), and gross income. Wisconsin accepts 4 different filing statuses. You must file under whichever status applies to you. If you qualify for more than one filing status, you may use the one that gives you the lowest tax. You must file a Wisconsin tax return if your income meets the following thresholds:
- Single (under 65) ― $10,140 or more
- Single (65 or older) ― $10,390 or more
- Married filing separate return (under 65) ― $9,000 or more
- Married filing separate return (65 or older) ― $9,030 or more
- Married filing joint return (both under 65) ― $18,410 or more
- Married filing joint return (one spouse 65 or older) ― $18,660 or more
- Married filing joint return (both 65 or older) ― $18,910 or more
- Head of household (under 65) ― $12,890 or more
- Head of household (65 or older) ― $13,140 or more
The term “gross income” refers to all income reportable to Wisconsin (before deducting expenses) ― it may be received in the form of money, property, or services. Gross income does not include items that are exempt from Wisconsin tax, such as Social Security benefits and U.S. government interest.
Even if your income is less than the amounts shown on the above table, you may still have to file a Wisconsin tax return. You must file a state tax return if any of the following applies:
- You can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return and either  your gross income was more than $950 and it included at least $301 in unearned income, or  your gross income (total earned income* and unearned income**) was more than $9,440 if single, $12,190 if head of household, $17,010 if married filing jointly, or $8,080 if married filing separately
- You claimed Wisconsin advance earned income credit through your employer
- You owe a penalty on an IRA, retirement plan, Coverdell ESA, or Archer MSA
- You were a part-year resident or nonresident of Wisconsin for 2009 and your gross income was $2,000 or more
Keep in mind that you must file a tax return to receive a tax refund (even if you do not have to file based on the requirements above). You should file to get a refund if any of the following apply:
- You had Wisconsin income tax withheld from your wages
- You paid estimated taxes for 2009
- You claim the Earned Income Credit
The individual income tax rates for taxpayers filing as “single” or “head of household” are as follows, based on income level:
- 4.60% on the first $10,220 of taxable income
- 6.15% (+ $470.12) on taxable income between $10,221 and $20,440
- 6.50% (+$1,098.65) on taxable income between $20,441 and $153,280
- 6.75% (+$9,733.25) on taxable income between $153,281 and $225,000
- 7.75% (+$14,574.35) on taxable income of $225,001 or more
The individual income tax rates for married taxpayers filing joint returns are as follows:
- 4.60% on the first $13,620 of taxable income
- 6.15% (+ $626.52) on taxable income between $13,621 and $27,250
- 6.50% (+ $1,464.77) on taxable income between $27,251 and $204,370
- 6.75% (+ $12,977.57) on taxable income between $204,371 and $300,000
- 7.75% (+ $19,432.60) on taxable income of $300,001 or more
The individual income tax rates for married taxpayers filing separate returns are as follows:
- 4.60% on the first $6,810 of taxable income
- 6.15% (+ $313.26) on taxable income between $6,811 and $13,620
- 6.50% (+ $732.08) on taxable income between $13,621 and $102,190
- 6.75% (+ $6,489.13) on taxable income between $102,191 and $150,000
- 7.75% (+ $9,716.31) on taxable income of $150,001 or more
Wisconsin income tax returns are due by April 15th following the end of the taxable year. If you have an extension for filing your federal return, you will be granted an automatic extension for filing your Wisconsin return as well. Keep in mind that with an extension, any tax due must still be paid by the original due date (April 15) or interest/penalties will apply.
In general, if you expect to owe more than $200 on your Wisconsin income tax return, you are subject to estimated income tax. This requires full-year residents, part-year residents, and nonresidents to make quarterly estimated tax payments due in 4 equal installments (April 15, June 15, September 15, January 15).
Wisconsin State Tax ― Corporate Tax
Corporations with business activity in Wisconsin are subject to either the corporate income tax or the corporate franchise tax. The corporate income tax has a rate of 7.9% on net income. The corporate franchise tax also has a rate of 7.9%, for the privilege of doing business in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin State Tax ― Sales & Use Tax
The state sales tax rate is 5%. Sales tax is imposed on the gross receipts of retailers who sell/lease taxable items or services in Wisconsin. Use tax, which is a component of the sales tax, has the same rate and applies to the use, consumption, or storage of taxable goods/services for which Wisconsin sales tax has not been properly collected. Many counties have adopted an additional county sales/use tax rate of 0.5% ― when added to the state rate (5%), the total sales/use tax rate is 5.5%.
Wisconsin State Tax ― Property Tax
Property taxes are mainly enforced on the local level and provide a major source of revenue for municipal governments, school districts, and special purpose districts.
Other Wisconsin State Taxes
Other smaller taxes include a gasoline tax ($0.329 per gallon), cigarette tax ($2.52 per pack), and alcoholic beverage taxes ($3.25 per gallon of liquor, $0.25 per gallon of wine, and $0.06 per gallon of beer).
Wisconsin State Tax Forms
Form 1 (Wisconsin Income Tax Return – Long Form)
Form 1A (Wisconsin Income Tax Return – Short Form)
Form WI-Z (Wisconsin Income Tax Return – Easy Form)
Form 1NPR (Wisconsin Nonresident and Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return)
Form 1-ES (Wisconsin Estimated Income Tax Voucher)
Form 1X (Amended Return – Wisconsin Income Tax)
Form 4 (Wisconsin Corporation Franchise or Income Tax Return)
Schedule H (Wisconsin Homestead Credit Claim)
Wisconsin State Tax Resources
Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR): www.revenue.wi.gov
Wisconsin state tax forms and publications: www.revenue.wi.gov/formpub
WI Department of Revenue “Individuals” portal: www.revenue.wi.gov/indiv
Wisconsin DOR “Online Services” center: www.revenue.wi.gov/eserv
Wisconsin e-File: www.revenue.wi.gov/wi_efile
Wisconsin DOR “Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)” for paying taxes online: www.revenue.wi.gov/eserv/eft
Check the status of your WI state tax refund: ww2.revenue.wi.gov/RefundInquiry
Property Assessment Appeal Guide for Wisconsin Property Owners: www.revenue.wi.gov/pubs/slf/pb055
Contact the WI Department of Revenue: www.revenue.wi.gov/contact