Telecommunications Property Tax

  1. What is the telecommunications property tax?

  2. How does the telecommunications property tax affect local property taxes?

  3. What is the definition of telecommunications services?

  4. What property is taxed and what property is not taxed?

  5. How is the telecommunication property assessed and how is the tax rate calculated?

  1. What is the telecommunications property tax?

  2. Telephone companies are assessed as ad valorem property tax. Tax revenue the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) collects from telephone companies goes to the state's general fund.

  3. How does the telecommunications property tax affect local property taxes?

    • Telecommunication property is exempt from the local property tax administered under Chapter 70 of the Wisconsin Statutes
    • Non-telecommunication property that changes its use to telecommunication is shifted from local property tax to the state telecommunication property tax and vice-versa

  4. What is the definition of telecommunication services?

    • Telecommunication service is defined as two-way transmission of voice, video, facsimile or data messages, including telegraph messages
    • It does not include one-way transmission of cable television, radio or paging equipment
    • Examples of telecommunication companies: Local exchange companies (LEC's), competitive local exchange companies (CLEC's), inter-exchange companies (IXC's), digital subscriber line companies (DSL) and commercial mobile service companies (wireless)

  5. What property is taxed and what property is not taxed?

    • Taxable property - includes real estate and personal property. Personal property - includes outside plant (cable, wire and poles), central office (circuit and switch) equipment, administrative office furniture and equipment, towers, antennae and supplies.
    • Non-taxable property - includes administrative computers and intangibles ex: goodwill)

  6. How is telecommunication property assessed and how is the tax rate calculated?

    Property assessed - DOR assesses the property in the same manner as manufacturing property. DOR staff assesses manufacturing and telecommunication property under the same statutory standards that apply to the commercial and residential property assessments. A telecommunication company must file annual self-reporting forms for its property. DOR audits the property every five years.
    Tax rate calculated - the tax rate for a telecommunication property is the sum of the net property tax rates (after credits) from the prior year in the taxing jurisdictions where the property is located.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

MS 6-97
WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
Division of State & Local Finance
Manufacturing and Utility Bureau
PO Box 8971
Madison, WI 53708-8971
Phone: (608) 266-3845
Fax: (608) 264-6897
Email additional questions to mfgtelco@wisconsin.gov

August 1, 2017