Wisconsin State Income Tax Overview

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is responsible for overseeing the collection of state income tax for individuals.  As with other states with a state income tax, this tax requires the filing of an income tax return separate from the federal income tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Following are frequently asked questions related to Wisconsin state income tax returns.

Filing Requirements

For the 2011 tax year, you must file a Wisconsin state income tax return if your gross income exceeds the amount noted in the table below:

Filing Status

Age as of the End of Year

Full-Year Residents


Single Under age 65 $10,110 or more $2,000 or more
Single Age 65 or older $10,360 or more $2,000 or more
Married filing a joint return Both spouses under 65 $18,340 or more $2,000 or more
One spouse 65 or older $18,590 or more $2,000 or more
Both spouses 65 or older $18,840 or more $2,000 or more
Married filing
separate returns
(each spouse)
Any age $9,000 or more
(applies to each spouse individually)
$2,000 or more
Head of household Under age 65 $12,850 or more $2,000 or more
Age 65 or older $13,100 or more $2,000 or more

Tax Rate

Wisconsin uses a marginal tax rate that divides income into five brackets and tops out at a maximum tax rate of 7.75%.  The tax rates are determined according to the table below:

Tax Bracket (Single) Tax Bracket (Couple) Marginal Tax Rate
$0+ $0+ 4.60%
$10,180+ $13,580+ 6.15%
$20,360+ $27,150+ 6.50%
$152,740+ $203,650+ 6.75%
$224,210+ $298,940+ 7.75%


Wisconsin allows for various deductions to reduce an individual’s taxable income.  These deductions include the following:

Standard Deduction

The standard deduction for an individual is $9,440 or $17,010 for those married filing jointly.  The standard deduction is available to those who do not choose to use itemized deductions.

Personal Exemption

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue allows a personal exemption in the amount of $700 for those who support themselves financially.

Dependent Exemption

An additional $700 exemption is available for each dependent you can claim, which are children, relatives, or others who you support financially and otherwise qualify as a dependent as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

Itemized Deductions

Itemized deductions are generally identical to those permitted on the Federal Income Tax Return.

Filing Date

The filing date for state income tax returns in Wisconsin mirrors that of the Internal Revenue Service, normally being due on April 15 but moving to the first non-holiday business day when April 15 falls on a weekend.

You can receive an automatic extension of Wisconsin state income tax of six-months by completely the appropriate extension paperwork.  The extension is only an extension of the date when you have to file your state income tax return, as any tax due must be paid on the original filing date.

If you fail to pay the tax you owe on time, Wisconsin charges both interest and penalties on the unpaid tax balance.

Tax Preparation Assistance

There are tax attorneys who specialize in Wisconsin state income tax law you can answer questions about your return or help you file your tax return.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.