Plan to boost 'angel' investing got its wings in 2011-13 state budget
As a candidate, Scott Walker made a flurry of tax-cut proposals. Several focused on the tax climate for businesses and attracting and retaining companies.
One plan aimed to entice so-called "angel” or "venture capital” investors to put funds into businesses in need of a boost.
"We must lower the tax burden for all individuals and job creators. Specifically, we can lower the tax on early stage and investment capital to make it more accessible to Wisconsin employers that want to stay in Wisconsin and expand while also luring start-ups to our state," Walker's campaign website stated.
Walker inserted a version of this plan into his 2011-'13 state budget plan. It was tweaked by the Legislature, approved and signed into law.
State policy analysts and outside observers debated the plan's potential effectiveness, but experts agree the changes do lower taxes on business investment capital for some firms.
Zach Brandon, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, said Walker's move in essence expanded the number of companies that might benefit from access to such investment.
To be clear, though, the tax break goes to the investor, not the company, noted Rob Reinhardt, Legislative Fiscal Bureau program supervisor on tax policy.
Here's how the Journal Sentinel described the two key provisions changing state law on capital gains taxation. "One would completely eliminate state capital-gains taxes on long-term investments - they must be held at least five years -- in Wisconsin businesses beginning in 2011,” the paper reported in March 2011. "The other would defer taxes on capital gains reaped anywhere if the proceeds are plowed back into a Wisconsin business.”
The story described investment professionals as reacting with lukewarm support.
It's clear Walker followed through on this tax pledge.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker"s proposed capital gains tax gets lukewarm backing” March 5, 2011
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Comparative Summary of Budget Recommendations, 2011 Act 32, August 2011
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, State Tax and Fee Modifications included in 2011 Act 32, July 5, 2011
Interview with Rob Reinhardt, Legislative Fiscal Bureau program supervisor, Tax Policy, Children and Families and Workforce Development section, Jan. 3, 2012
Email exchange with Jack Norman, research director, Institute for Wisconsin"s Future, Jan. 3, 2012
Interview with Zach Brandon, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, Jan. 3, 2012