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What About WIC Recipients And Madison Wheel Tax?

November 1, 2019

I have long advocated for what is termed a wheel tax.  I reject the notion that is is a regressive tax.  As does the UW-Madison’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs.

As such, I was surprised and pleased that Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway made it a central part of the means of assembling her first city budget.  While there have many voices who have registered opposition to the move the policy passed during a special city council meeting this week.

But there is one aspect to the plan which does require scrutiny and far more explanation before being implemented.  There seems a desire to send “blanket” gift cards to WIC recipients to compensate them for the wheel tax.  While I favor a well-formulated plan to address those with economic issues that may face hardship with the new tax,  I am not pleased with how the matter was dealt with at the meeting. 

I was shocked when I heard the woman who administers the WIC program for Madison, in response to a question about if the recipients would need to show proof of payment of the vehicle registration, said no, they would be sent to everyone without application or proof. 

That is not how the government should operate at any level.  Those are not the words or tone that the majority in Madison, who will pay the tax and do so without asking for compensation of any kind, want to hear.  Or be expected to hear.

Recently I talked with a friend who I have known for decades who had received a gift card for complying with a wellness program for state insurance.  He was told that it would be reported to the IRS as income. 

One might then ask if the City of Madison will report this benefit as income to the IRS? Will the City of Madison report this as income to the state or federal agency administering the WIC program?   If not, why?

It can be rightly stated that the amendment which generated this idea was not well-honed or presented with clarity at the Finance Committee meeting.  How to administer it, along with all the ramifications regarding it was, as they say, left on the cutting room floor.

Those like myself who have long felt a wheel tax was a good way to add revenue to the city, along with those who object to the tax, all can meet with unity on one aspect of the issue.  We all demand that it be administered with common sense and clarity.  Anything else is not acceptable.

And so it goes.

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