The tax commission's conclusion that, to be exempt under sub. (39), a device must be an exempt item under sub. (39) and not merely contain an exempt item was reasonable. Xerox Corporation v. DOR, 2009 WI App 113
, 321 Wis. 2d 181
, 772 N.W.2d 677
An exemption under sub. (4) depends on: 1) whether the residence is owned and used exclusively by the church; and 2) whether it is housing for any of 4 listed categories of persons, namely, pastors, ordained assistants, members of religious orders and communities, or ordained teachers. The exemption applies to a limited group who are members of a religious group and integral to the functioning of the church. It is not enough under sub. (4) or Midtown
that a custodian's employment serves the church or is integral to the functioning of the church. The person must serve a religious leadership purpose. Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church v. City of Wauwatosa, 2009 WI App 171
, 321 Wis. 2d 796
, 776 N.W.2d 280
In applying the sub. (4m) (a) exemption for nonprofit hospitals, when an off-site facility is engaged in the primary purpose of a parent hospital the court examines only whether the off-site facility is “used exclusively for the purposes of" that hospital. When the circuit court determined that an outpatient clinic effectively served as a department of the larger parent hospital, the outpatient clinic was used exclusively for the purposes of a hospital and therefore qualified for the exemption under sub. (4m) (a). Covenant Healthcare System, Inc. v. City of Wauwatosa, 2011 WI 80
, 336 Wis. 2d 522
, 800 N.W.2d 906
The determination of whether property is used as a “doctor's office" under sub. (4m) (a) ultimately turns on the facts of each case. Factors to be considered are discussed. That a clinic does not provide inpatient services, and that most patients are seen by physicians at the clinic by appointment during regular business hours is not determinative of a “doctor's office." Covenant Healthcare System, Inc. v. City of Wauwatosa, 2011 WI 80
, 336 Wis. 2d 522
, 800 N.W.2d 906
In the context of not-for-profit entities, the definition of “commercial purposes" in sub. (4m) (a) is not limited to those purposes that generate profits. The more appropriate definition of commercial for the purposes of the not-for-profit hospital exemption is having profit as the primary aim. Not-for-profit entities may operate in such a fashion that generates revenues in excess of expenses. Covenant Healthcare System, Inc. v. City of Wauwatosa, 2011 WI 80
, 336 Wis. 2d 522
, 800 N.W.2d 906
Under the sub. (4m) (a) exemption of hospital property from taxation if “no part of the net earnings . . . inures to the benefit of any shareholder, member, director or officer . . . ," the term “member" does not include not-for-profit entities. Covenant Healthcare System, Inc. v. City of Wauwatosa, 2011 WI 80
, 336 Wis. 2d 522
, 800 N.W.2d 906
A nonprofit entity that is “operated as a facility that is licensed, certified, or registered under ch. 50" is eligible for the exemption under sub. (4) (a), whether or not the facility is benevolent. The word “benevolent," found within the clause “including benevolent nursing homes," clearly modifies “nursing homes"; it does not modify “facility." Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc. v. City of Beaver Dam, 2012 WI App 102
, 344 Wis. 2d 278
, 822 N.W.2d 491
The purpose, and not the name it is given, determines whether a government charge constitutes a tax. The primary purpose of a tax is to obtain revenue for the government, while the primary purpose of a fee is to cover the expense of providing a service or of regulation and supervision of certain activities. The test is whether the primary purpose of the charge is to cover the expense of providing services, supervision, or regulation. Here, the town demonstrated that the primary purpose of a charge was to cover the expense of providing the service of fire protection to the properties within its geographic boundaries and, therefore, the charge was a fee rather than a tax and assessable against county property. Town of Hoard v. Clark County, 2015 WI App 100
, 366 Wis. 2d 239
, 873 N.W.2d 241
The property tax exemption for pollution control facilities provided in sub. (21) (a) [now sub. (21) (am)] applies to pollution control facilities incorporated into new plants to be constructed, in addition to those installed to abate or eliminate existing pollution sources. 60 Atty. Gen. 154.
Preferential tax treatment may not be given to any organization that discriminates on the basis of race. Pitts v. DOR, 333 F. Supp. 662
Tax exemption and religious freedom. 54 MLR 385.
What is Benevolence? Clarifying Wisconsin's Real Property Tax Exemption for Benevolent Organizations and the Argument for the “Retirement" of the Exemption for High-End Senior-Housing Complexes. Jaynes. 2006 WLR 1434.
Property that is exempt under s. 70.11
and that is used in part in a trade or business for which the owner of the property is subject to taxation under sections 511
of the internal revenue code, as defined in s. 71.22 (4m)
, shall be assessed for taxation at that portion of the fair market value of the property that is attributable to the part of the property that is used in the unrelated trade or business. This section does not apply to property that is leased by an exempt organization to another person or to property that is exempt under s. 70.11 (34)
Property, excluding land, that is owned or leased by a corporation that provides services pursuant to 15 USC 79
to a light, heat, and power company, as defined under s. 76.28 (1) (e)
, that is subject to taxation under s. 76.28
and that is affiliated with the corporation shall be assessed for taxation at the portion of the fair market value of the property that is not used to provide such services.
History: 1997 a. 35
; 2001 a. 16
Section 70.11 (intro.), and not s. 70.1105, applies if an exempt organization leases part of its property to a for-profit entity. Section 70.1105 applies if the exempt organization engages in for-profit activities. However the methodology for determining exemptions under each is the same. Deutsches Land, Inc. v. City of Glendale, 225 Wis. 2d 70
, 591 N.W.2d 583
Personal property exempted from taxation.
The property described in this section is exempted from general property taxes:
Jewelry, household furnishings, and apparel.
Personal ornaments and jewelry, family portraits, private libraries, musical instruments other than pianos, radio equipment, household furniture, equipment and furnishings, apparel, motor bicycles, electric bicycles, bicycles, and firearms if such items are kept for personal use by the owner and pianos if they are located in a residence.
Farm poultry, farm animals, bees and bee equipment and fur-bearing animals under 4 months of age and the hides and pelts of all farm and fur-bearing animals in the hands of the grower.
Watercraft employed regularly in interstate traffic, watercraft laid up for repairs, all pleasure watercraft used for recreational purposes, commercial fishing boats and equipment that is used by commercial fishing boats, charter sailboats and charter boats, other than sailboats, that are used for tours.
Charter sport fishing boats.
Motorboats, and the equipment used on them, which are regularly employed in carrying persons for hire for sport fishing in and upon the outlying waters, as defined in s. 29.001 (63)
, and the rivers and tributaries specified in s. 29.2285 (2) (a) 1.
if the owner and all operators are licensed under s. 29.512
or under s. 29.514
or both and by the U.S. coast guard to operate the boat for that purpose.
Growing and harvested crops, and the seed, fertilizer and supplies used in their production or handling, in the hands of the grower, including nursery stock and trees growing for sale as such, medicinal plants, perennial plants that produce an annual crop and plants growing in greenhouses or under hotbeds, sash or lath. This exemption also applies to trees growing for sale as Christmas trees.
Provisions and fuel to sustain the owner's family; but no person paying board shall be deemed a member of a family.
Feed and feed supplements owned by the operator or owner of a farm and used in feeding on the farm and not for sale.
All horses, mules, wagons, carriages, sleighs, harnesses.
Tools and garden machines.
The tools of a mechanic if those tools are kept and used in the mechanic's trade; and garden machines and implements and farm, orchard and garden tools if those machines, implements and tools are owned and used by any person in the business of farming or in the operation of any orchard or garden. In this subsection, “machine" has the meaning given in sub. (10) (a) 2.
“Building" means any structure that is intended to be a permanent accession to real property; that is designed or used for sheltering people, animals or plants, for storing property or for working, office, parking, sales or display space, regardless of any contribution that the structure makes to the production process in it; that in physical appearance is annexed to that real property; that is covered by a roof or encloses space; that is not readily moved or disassembled; and that is commonly known to be a building because of its appearance and because of the materials of which it is constructed.
“Machine" means an assemblage of parts that transmits force, motion and energy from one part to another in a predetermined manner.
Tractors and machines; including accessories, attachments, fuel and repair parts for them; whether owned or leased, that are used exclusively and directly in farming; including dairy farming, agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and custom farming services; but not including personal property that is attached to, fastened to, connected to or built into real property or that becomes an addition to, component of or capital improvement to real property and not including buildings or improvements to real property, regardless of any contribution that that personal property makes to the production process in them and regardless of the extent to which that personal property functions as a machine.
For purposes of this subsection, the following items retain their character as tangible personal property, regardless of the extent to which they are fastened to, connected to or built into real property:
Milking machines; including piping, pipeline washers and compressors.
Powered feeders, but not including platforms or troughs constructed from ordinary building materials.
Natural cheese owned by the Wisconsin primary manufacturer or by any other person while in storage for the purpose of further aging in preparation for cutting, packaging or other processing.
Milkhouse equipment used by a farmer, including mechanical can coolers, bulk tanks and hot water heaters. This exemption shall apply whether such equipment is deemed personal property or is so affixed to the realty as to be classified in the category of real estate.
Merchants' stock-in-trade; manufacturers' materials and finished products; livestock.
As of January 1, 1981, merchants' stock-in-trade, manufacturers' materials and finished products and livestock.
Biogas or synthetic gas energy systems, solar energy systems, and wind energy systems. In this subsection, “biogas or synthetic gas energy system" means equipment which directly converts biomass, as defined under section 45K
(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as interpreted by the Internal Revenue Service, into biogas or synthetic gas, equipment which generates electricity, heat, or compressed natural gas exclusively from biogas or synthetic gas, equipment which is used exclusively for the direct transfer or storage of biomass, biogas, or synthetic gas, and any structure used exclusively to shelter or operate such equipment, or the portion of any structure used in part to shelter or operate such equipment that is allocable to such use, if all such equipment, and any such structure, is located at the same site, and includes manure, substrate, and other feedstock collection and delivery systems, pumping and processing equipment, gasifiers and digester tanks, biogas and synthetic gas cleaning and compression equipment, fiber separation and drying equipment, and heat recovery equipment, but does not include equipment or components that are present as part of a conventional energy system. In this subsection, “synthetic gas" is a gas that qualifies as a renewable resource under s. 196.378 (1) (h) 1. h.
In this subsection, “solar energy system" means equipment which directly converts and then transfers or stores solar energy into usable forms of thermal or electrical energy, but does not include equipment or components that would be present as part of a conventional energy system or a system that operates without mechanical means. In this subsection, “wind energy system" means equipment which converts and then transfers or stores energy from the wind into usable forms of energy, but does not include equipment or components that would be present as part of a conventional energy system. Until the tax incremental district terminates, the exemption under this subsection for biogas or synthetic gas energy systems does not apply to property in existence on January 1, 2014, and located in a tax incremental financing district in effect on January 1, 2014.
See also s. Tax 12.50
, Wis. adm. code.
Camping trailers, recreational mobile homes, and recreational vehicles. 70.111(19)(b)
Recreational mobile homes, as defined in s. 66.0435 (1) (hm)
, and recreational vehicles, as defined in s. 340.01 (48r)
. The exemption under this paragraph also applies to steps and a platform, not exceeding 50 square feet, that lead to a doorway of a recreational mobile home or a recreational vehicle, but does not apply to any other addition, attachment, deck, or patio.
All equipment used to cut trees, to transport trees in logging areas or to clear land of trees for the commercial use of forest products.
Structures for ginseng.
Any temporary structure in the hands of a grower of ginseng used or designed to be used to provide shade for ginseng plants.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, personal property held for rental for periods of one month or less to multiple users for their temporary use, if the property is not rented with an operator, if the owner is not a subsidiary or affiliate of any other enterprise and the owner is engaged in the rental of the property subject to the exemption to the other enterprise, if the owner is classified in group number 735, industry number 7359 of the 1987 standard industrial classification manual published by the U.S. office of management and budget and if the property is equipment, including construction equipment but not including automotive and computer-related equipment, television sets, video recorders and players, cameras, photographic equipment, audiovisual equipment, photocopying equipment, sound equipment, public address systems and video tapes; party supplies; appliances; tools; dishes; silverware; tables; or banquet accessories.
Personal property held primarily for rental for periods of 364 days or less to multiple users for their temporary use, if the property is not rented with an operator, if the owner is not a subsidiary or affiliate of any other enterprise and the owner is engaged in the rental of the property subject to the exemption to the other enterprise, if the owner is classified under 532412 of the North American Industry Classification System, 2012 edition, published by the U.S. bureau of the census, and if the property is heavy equipment used for construction, mining, or forestry, including bulldozers, earthmoving equipment, well-drilling machinery and equipment, or cranes.
All machines that automatically dispense food and food ingredient, as defined in s. 77.51 (3t)
, upon the deposit in the machines of specified coins or currency, or insertion of a credit card, in payment for the food and food ingredient, as defined in s. 77.51 (3t)
Motion picture theater equipment.
Projection equipment, sound systems and projection screens that are owned and used by a motion picture theater.
Digital broadcasting equipment.
Digital broadcasting equipment owned and used by a radio station, television station, or video service network, as defined in s. 66.0420 (2) (zb)
A high density sequencing system that by mechanical or electronic operation moves printed materials from one place to another within the production process, organizes the materials for optimal staging, or stores and retrieves the materials to facilitate the production or assembly of such materials.
In this subsection, “machinery" means a structure or assemblage of parts that transmits force, motion, or energy from one part to another in a predetermined way by electrical, mechanical, or chemical means. “Machinery" does not include a building.
Beginning with the property tax assessments as of January 1, 2018, machinery, tools, and patterns, not including such items used in manufacturing.
A taxing jurisdiction may include the most recent valuation of personal property described under par. (b)
that is located in the taxing jurisdiction for purposes of complying with debt limitations applicable to the jurisdiction.
History: 1971 c. 315
; 1973 c. 90
; 1973 c. 336
; 1975 c. 39
; 1977 c. 29
, 1646 (2)
, (3), (4); 1977 c. 142
; 1979 c. 3
; 1981 c. 20
; 1983 a. 27
; 1983 a. 88
; 1985 a. 29
; 1987 a. 387
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 269
; 1993 a. 85
; 1995 a. 27
; 1997 a. 248
; 1999 a. 9
; 1999 a. 150
; 2001 a. 16
; 2005 a. 298
; 2007 a. 11
; 2009 a. 2
; 2013 a. 20
; 2015 a. 55
; 2017 a. 59
; 2019 a. 34
Personal property held out for rental is not “stock-in-trade" under sub. (17). Menomonee Falls v. Falls Rental World, 135 Wis. 2d 393
, 400 N.W.2d 478
(Ct. App. 1986).
The exemption under sub. (9) applies only to personal property. Pulsfus v. Town of Leeds, 149 Wis. 2d 797
, 440 N.W.2d 329
“Interstate traffic" in sub. (3) means interstate commerce; what constitutes a boat in interstate commerce is discussed. Town of LaPointe v. Madeline Island Ferry, 179 Wis. 2d 726
, 508 N.W.2d 440
(Ct. App. 1993).
A mobile home is an improvement to real property under s. 70.043 (1) when the home is resting for more than a temporary time, in whole or in part, on some other means of support than its wheels, but a mobile homes may be personal property and exempt under s. (19) (b) although it may have some weight off its wheels. Ahrens v. Town of Fulton, 2002 WI 29
, 251 Wis. 2d 135
, 641 N.W.2d 423
In applying sub. (20), the use of the equipment rather than the primary purpose of the underlying business is the determining factor in deciding whether equipment is exempt from taxation. De minimis uses of the property are not sufficient to invoke this exemption. Village of Lannon v. Wood-Land Contractors, Inc. 2003 WI 150
, 267 Wis. 2d 158
, 672 N.W.2d 275
Sub. (22) unambiguously expresses the legislature's clear intent to exempt rental property from taxation that is held for rental for one month or less and for property available for rental for more than one month to be taxed. There is no ambiguity in the statutory language such that it might possibly apply to property that is held for rental for one month or less and that is also available for rental for more than one month. United Rentals, Inc. v. City of Madison, 2007 WI App 131
, 305 Wis. 2d 120
, 741 N.W.2d 471
As used in sub. (1), “kept for personal use" does not explicitly limit the use of personal property solely to personal use. The decisive question is whether the use is de minimus or inconsequential. Faydash v. City of Sheboygan, 2011 WI App 57
, 332 Wis. 2d 397
, 797 N.W.2d 540
Property exempted from taxation because of special tax.
The property described in this section is exempted from general property taxes:
Money and intangible personalty.
Money and all intangible personal property, such as credit, checks, share drafts, other drafts, notes, bonds, stocks and other written instruments.
Special property and gross receipts taxes or license fees. 70.112(4)(a)(a)
All special property assessed under ss. 76.01
and property of any light, heat, and power company taxed under s. 76.28
, car line company, and electric cooperative association that is used and useful in the operation of the business of such company or association. If a general structure for which an exemption is sought under this section is used and useful in part in the operation of any public utility assessed under ss. 76.01
or of the business of any light, heat, and power company taxed under s. 76.28
, car line company, or electric cooperative association and in part for nonoperating purposes of the public utility or company or association, that general structure shall be assessed for taxation under this chapter at the percentage of its full market value that fairly measures and represents the extent of its use for nonoperating purposes. Nothing provided in this paragraph shall exclude any real estate or any property which is separately accounted for under s. 196.59
from special assessments for local improvements under s. 66.0705
If real or tangible personal property is used more than 50 percent, as determined by the department of revenue, in the operation of a telephone company that is subject to the tax imposed under s. 76.81
, the department of revenue shall assess the property and that property shall be exempt from the general property taxes imposed under this chapter. If real or tangible personal property is used less than 50 percent, as determined by the department of revenue, in the operation of a telephone company that is subject to the tax imposed under s. 76.81
, the taxation district in which the property is located shall assess the property and that property shall be subject to the general property taxes imposed under this chapter.
Motor vehicles, bicycles, snowmobiles.
Every automobile, motor bicycle, motor bus, motorcycle, motor truck, moped, road tractor, school bus, snowmobile, truck tractor, or other similar motor vehicle, or trailer or semitrailer used in connection therewith.
The federal Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 49 USC 11501 (b) (4), restricts the ability of state and local governments to levy discriminatory taxes on rail carriers. The Act might be violated if a railroad is singled out for unfavorable treatment in the form of inability to benefit from property tax exemptions given to other taxpayers. In Wisconsin, manufacturing and commercial taxpayers generally qualify for the intangible personal property exemption under sub. (1), but railroad and utilities companies under s. 76.025 (1) do not. Therefore, the intangible personal property tax singles out railroads as part of a targeted and isolated group in violation of the Act. Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. DOR, 940 F.3d 336
State aid to municipalities; aids in lieu of taxes. 70.113(1)(1)
As soon after April 20 of each year as is feasible the department of natural resources shall pay to the city, village, or town treasurer all of the following amounts from the following appropriations for each acre situated in the municipality of state forest lands, as defined in s. 28.02 (1)
, state parks under s. 27.01
and state public shooting, trapping or fishing grounds and reserves or refuges operated thereon, acquired at any time under s. 29.10
, 1943 stats., s. 23.09 (2) (d)
or 29.749 (1)
or from the appropriations made by s. 20.866 (2) (tp)
by the department of natural resources or leased from the federal government by the department of natural resources: