Stateline Midwest ~ June 2013
When Wisconsinites went to the polls in 1908, they had tax reform on their minds. The existing state revenue system was perceived by many as being unfair, and reformers, including former Gov. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, had been calling for change for years. And so, by a margin of better than two-to-one, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that paved the way for the nation’s first modern state income tax.
A century later, the Wisconsin income tax stands out as a landmark in the evolution of state revenue systems, but the idea of taxing earnings was not new at the time.