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Reality Check: TV Ads Against 'Home Tax'

Published On: May 29 2007 09:49:31 AM CDT   Updated On: May 29 2007 09:52:14 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

As lawmakers wrangle over the state budget, issue ads against the so-called home tax are playing on televisions across the state.

VIDEO: Watch The Report

WISC-TV political reporter Colin Benedict put the TV ads through a "Reality Check."

The ad starts with this question: "How much money would you be out if some state leaders get their way and double your home tax?"

But what exactly is the home tax? Before answering that, it's important to point out that the Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance is paying for the ads.

The group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group, according to HomeownersAlliance.org. But it should be noted that it was created by the Wisconsin Realtors Association, and every member of the Homeowner Alliance Board is a realtor.

The ad makes it clear the group is against doubling the so-called home tax.

"On a half million dollar business, on a $200,000 home, a $750,000 farm," the ad says.

What the ad is referring to is not the property tax but the fee that people pay when they sell their homes or businesses.

WISC-TV found that calling it the "home tax" is "misleading."

Right now, if someone sold his home, $3 for every $1,000 of the home's worth is paid to the state -- a small portion goes to the county, WISC-TV reported.

Gov. Jim Doyle's budget proposed doubling that to $6 per $1,000 of the home's worth. On the average Madison home, the fee would increase from about $718 to more than $1,400.

Among the neighboring states, Wisconsin's hike would move the state to the higher end. If it is passed, only Michigan's fee would be higher, WISC-TV reported.

"It's double taxation and it's double trouble for all property owners in Wisconsin," the ad says.

That claim "needs clarification." While the increase would apply to all property owners, only about 7 percent would pay it each year, which is how many people sell every year.

Republicans are trying to kill the increase but it remains in the current version of the state budget, WISC-TV reported.

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