Property Tax Exemptions

Generally, all property in Wisconsin is taxable unless it is specifically exempted by state statute. The constitution gives the legislature the power to prescribe what property shall be taxed and what property is exempt from taxation. Sections 70.11, 70.111, and various other Wisconsin Statutes exempt certain real and personal property from the general property tax.

WI Statutes, Section 70.109 states: "Exemptions under this chapter shall be strictly construed in every instance with a presumption that the property in question is taxable, and the burden of proof is on the person who claims the exemption." The courts have also consistently held that taxation is the rule and exemption the exception. It is the responsibility of the party seeking exemption to show that their property falls within the statutory criteria for exemption. The party must present evidence that clearly and beyond a reasonable doubt shows that the property is exempt or the assessor must deny the exemption.

The law requires that the owner of a property seeking an exemption must file, on or before March 1 of the year the exemption is sought, an application form (PR-230) and attachments with the assessor. The filing requirement applies only to new exemption requests. Owners of properties currently exempt are not required to fill out the form. Failure to complete the form in its entirety and file with the assessor by March 1 may result in an exemption denial.

Statutory changes enacted in 2009 now also require owners of low-income housing projects to file with the assessor by March 1 each year, a statement that specifies which units are occupied by persons whose income complies with the income limits under the exemption requirements. Owners may be subject to penalties for failure to submit the statement.

For more information regarding property tax exemptions, see the following publications: