Wisconsin ranks high among national quality of life surveys. It’s frequently rated as one of the best places to live in the country thanks to the friendly people, beautiful and varied landscape, and lower-than-average crime rate in cities. It takes a lot of money to keep things beautiful, though; our harsh winters take a toll on buildings and other infrastructure, and economic variables can lead to some areas falling to neglect. There’s one way out of it all. By putting Wisconsin’s taxes to good use, cities and towns can improve blighted or new areas by securing TIF.

public finance attorney wisconsin

What is TIF?

Wisconsin started implementing TIF programs in 1975 as a way to eliminate and improve blighted urban areas. Economic troubles in the 70s lead to nationwide decline in dense urban areas. Buildings started crumbling, sidewalks were in disrepair, and soil contamination was rampant. The affected areas obviously needed a massive overhaul, but repairs were costly. That’s where the Tax Incremental Funding program came into play. Through TIF, municipalities can identify problem areas, make a plan for improvements, and use tax dollars to get the work done.

Without TIF help, many areas would never see improvements to this day. TIF allows towns and cities to develop areas that may never otherwise grow or improve existing ones. The result is economic growth, thriving neighborhoods, and reduced crime. When TIF is put to good use, residents and visitors thrive, employment rates improve, and quality of life gets an upgrade.

How to Get TIF in Wisconsin

In order to receive funding, the municipality – city, town, borough, township, etc. – must first establish a Tax Incremental District. The municipality then looks at the TID to see what types of development could benefit and improve growth in the area. Some examples of improvements include sidewalks, building repair, and removing groundwater contamination. 

There’s a specific process municipalities must follow to establish a TID and secure funding. First, it must prove that the only way the TID will improve is with TIF; that is, the project wouldn’t happen “but for” this specific funding. The purpose of this rule is to ensure the tax dollars go directly to the project and not into the hands of private developers. 

After establishing a TID, the municipality will assign a Joint Review Board to oversee the district. Members of the JRB oversee the TID and form a plan before applying for funding with the types of projects it wishes to complete, the cost of those projects, and the value that the improvements will add to the municipality. 

Do I Need a TIF Attorney in Wisconsin?

An attorney who specializes in TIF and other public finance matters can make a significant difference when a municipality seeks funding. Local laws can vary slightly across Wisconsin, and knowing how to navigate the TIF application process makes it go much smoother. If your municipality could benefit from legal advice during the TIF process, Atolles Law, S.C. can help. Our team is familiar and experienced with TIF regulations statewide and can ensure the success of your TIF application. Contact us for a consultation or to learn more about what we can do to assist with your public finance matters.