Rep. Jeskewitz: Auditors Examining Distribution of Sales and Use Taxes

For More Information Contact:

Representative Suzanne Jeskewitz (608) 266-3796
Senator Carol Roessler (608) 266-5300

(Madison) Representative Suzanne Jeskewitz (R-Menomonee Falls) and Senator Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh) today expressed their serious concerns about recent media reports indicating that the amount of sales and use tax collections distributed by the Department of Revenue to county governments has been far below projected amounts.

“It is not yet clear how extensively the amounts distributed vary from the amounts projected. What is clear is that it is imperative that we have an accurate collection and distribution system,” said Senator Roessler.

Wisconsin statutes permit county governments to levy a 0.5 percent sales and use tax on the same goods and services subject to the 5.0 percent state sales and use tax. In counties that levy the taxes, retailers submit their state and county sales and use tax returns and collections to the Department of Revenue, which processes the returns, retains a statutorily prescribed percentage of collections as an administrative fee, and distributes the reported tax revenues to county governments and to special districts such as the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District and the Green Bay-Brown County Professional Football Stadium District.

As co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Roessler and Jeskewitz recently received a letter from Representative John Lehman (D-Racine) requesting the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an audit of the Department of Revenue’s county sales tax collection and distribution system.

“We understand that the Legislative Audit Bureau is reviewing these concerns as a part of its annual financial audit of the Department of Revenue,” stated Jeskewitz. “In order to best use the Bureau’s limited resources, we have asked them to report back to us on their findings regarding the systems and procedures used to account for sales and use tax revenues. At that point we will be better able to determine if a full audit is warranted.”

Co-chairs Roessler and Jeskewitz stated that they would closely monitor this issue and review the work of the Legislative Audit Bureau in order to determine what additional action steps would be necessary.