Wisconsin reveals that giving Bucks owners $150m in income tax rebates would make Bucks owners $150m richer

This just in! (Well, in on Friday afternoon, but nobody pays attention to the interwebs then.) Rich Kirchen has breaking news that according to Wisconsin state assembly leader Robin Vos, redirecting income taxes paid by Milwaukee Bucks players and employees could provide up to $10 million a year in funding toward the Bucks arena project, providing enough money to pay off $150 million in arena costs!

This is the first we’ve heard from Kirchen on the “jock tax” since July, when he reported that redirecting income taxes paid by Bucks players and employees could provide up to $10 million a year in arena funding. But then it was Gov. Scott Walker saying it, not Vos, so, you know, news.

So long as Kitchen is rehashing old stories, I think I’ll just quote what I said back in July about the jock tax idea:

This is revenue that Wisconsin is currently collecting, so it’s hardly free money. (Yes, it’s money that the state won’t collect if the Bucks move elsewhere, but then sports fans would just spend their entertainment dollars on something else, and employees of that something else would make more money and pay more income taxes, and so on, and so on.) So it’s really just a way of totaling up all the money that the state could credit to the Bucks, then rebating them by writing them a check equal to that amount. Except the players would still be paying the taxes, while the team owners would be getting the check. Nice work if you can get it.

Kirchen also says that an extra $150 million would more than provide the $100 million in public funding expected to be needed for the project — but given that the current price tag is from $400-500 million and the current budget goes $100 million from the Bucks, $100 million from former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, and $100 million from Mystery Investor #1 (possibly via a naming rights deal), the gap may actually be a fair bit more than that. But yes, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has confirmed that if the state sends the Bucks owners a check for all the state income taxes that their employees are paying, then the Bucks owners will have a bunch more money. It’s magic!

6 comments on “Wisconsin reveals that giving Bucks owners $150m in income tax rebates would make Bucks owners $150m richer

  1. “Milwaukee needs a new arena.”

    That’s the new tactic. This isn’t about a team, it’s about a private company subsidizing a public need for an arena. We’ve been looking at it incorrectly all along.

    Since this private company is being so generous with its assets as it subsidizes a public facility, it’s only right, good and fair that this private company should also get tax and rent breaks.

    I hope it’s obvious that I’m being sarcastic, but this is the new approach. Think of all the high-school graduations that can happen at this new building!

  2. I think this is great news… when both the municipal and federal governments realize that income taxes should be rebated directly to their payers, I will be able to build a new house using the revenue stream from these tax kickbacks at no net cost to me because I would otherwise be spending this money on income and other taxes.

    The town I live in gets a new house, I’m not out of pocket and several levels of government get to hold a press conference announcing the “John needs a new house” project as part of an infrastructure campaign.

    Everybody wins, except police, fire depts, public works, schoolchildren, hospitals, local government, federal government and the poor. They all lose out because the taxes I used to pay now go to pay for my new house.

    But hey. Progress, man….

  3. Just think of all the employees you’ll add to the local economy, John.

    And now Sacramento’s arena will have already paid for itself by 2017. No doubt that NCAA games will add $200M to the local economy.


    I know the $200M claim will be forthcoming, so I might as well do their jobs for them.

  4. Here in Arizona, they’re worried about the loss of economic impact if the Cardinals play in the Super Bowl, because there will be only one visiting team and bunches of folks will stay home and the hotels will be empty, because who visits Arizona in January?

  5. The head of the Sacramento Sports Association (or whatever it’s called) claimed today that the NCAA games in Sacramento will generate $4M-$5M in economic activity. I actually find that believable, even if some of that $5M will simply be substitution. In fairness to them, though, $5M is probably realistic. This is in contrast to the estimates we saw for Indy, which they obviously didn’t meet.

    However, that still only generates $500,000, at best, in tax revenue for the City. They’ll only need 40 more weekends just like that to cover the City’s part of the bond debt (remembering that SBH is already borrowing $220M on its own, and they have to pay that off as well). So, sure, “it’s a start”, but it’ll be a long uphill battle from there.

    I assume they’ll also be borrowing for their ancillary development.

  6. Hopefully they don’t make the mistake of trying to build this underground like the new arena in Chicago that could cost up to $110 million more than initially expected.