Looking On The Bright Side
Premier Resort Tax. The primary justification given for the Premier Resort Area Tax (the PRAT, aka RAT) is that it gets the tourists to pay for the extra wear and expense on the city’s infrastructure that they help cause; however, that is not the predominate impact of the tax.
Currently, both tourists and residents pay a 5 ½ % sales tax in the City of Lake Geneva on taxable items. Who pays the bulk of that tax? Is it tourists or residents? Residents of course, especially year round residents. So if you add a ½% increase to that tax, which is what the RAT really does, then who would be paying most of that additional tax. Tourists or residents?
Although a few stores that pay the state sales tax may not have to pay the RAT, most will have to pay it, and that includes the high volume stores such as Walmart, Target, and other big boxes. The second justification given for the RAT is that the increased revenue from the Premier Resort Area Tax would enable the city to lower property taxes. Since the tourists would be paying a portion of the PRAT, the total burden on the residents would be lower; however, there is a problem with that reasoning.
First: If you actually expect that the city would lower property taxes, then someone should recommend a good psychiatrist to treat your ongoing delusions.
Second: Even if lowering of property tax was true (and it’s not), then it would result in a transference of the tax burden from the affluent to the less affluent. The wealthier would be getting a greater dollar reduction in their property tax than they would be paying in the increased sales tax, and the less affluent would be paying more in sales tax than they would benefit from the reduction in property taxes.
In its effort to get the RAT approved, the city believes that if the surrounding municipalities will join in, then it will improve Lake Geneva’s chances of persuading its residents, all elected representatives and the State of Wisconsin to approve a special exemption for Lake Geneva. Getting the surrounding municipalities to join with the City of Lake Geneva in imposing the Premier Resort Area Tax on their residents takes a bad idea and makes it worse. It enables those that are even less qualified for the RAT than Lake Geneva to participate in the RAT. Whether by a persuasive selling point, incentive or bribe to the surrounding municipalities, it is clear that the RAT is being sold (primarily by “Tax and Switch” Bob Kordus), and therefore when Lake Geneva finally gets the tax passed your community will be left out.
Something More on the Bright Side