According to analysis by Truth in Accounting, Wisconsin does not have enough assets available ($12.7 billion), to pay the state's bills, ($21.8 billion). The difference between assets and bills is $9.1 billion. That debt divided by the number of taxpayers reveals Wisconsin's per-taxpayer burden of $4,800 in 2012. Only eight states--Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, Tennessee, and Wyoming--achieved a per-taxpayer surplus in 2012.

Wisconsin beat the 180 day goal time between the close of its fiscal year and release of its 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), publishing the report 166 days after the fiscal year-end. The timeliest states--Utah (111 days), Washington (138), and Michigan (151)- published their CAFRs well before the 180 day deadline. The worst state, New Mexico, took 426 days, over a year after fiscal year end, to publish its CAFR.

Truth in Accounting has a unique, comprehensive methodology to analyze all state assets and liabilities, including unreported pension and retirement health liabilities.  The result is shown as the per-taxpayer surplus or liability, the difference in each state's assets and liabilities divided by the number of taxpayers in the state.

More detail on Wisconsin’s assets and liabilities can be found in the Wisconsin State of the State (2012).


  • Wisconsin's per-taxpayer burden decreased to $4,800 in 2012, and the state's rank rose two spots to 21st.
  • With an average personal income of $42,121, Wisconsin's taxpayer burden dropped marginally to 11.4% of a year's income.
  • Outbound moves from Wisconsin in 2012 were 55% of total moves, reflecting business and citizen concerns about the state's economic health.
  • Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 6.9%, compared to a national average of 8.1% in 2012.
  • Wisconsin's financial reports disclose only $426 million of retirement liabilities, leaving $602 million undisclosed, down marginally from $1 billion in 2011.
  • Wisconsin's 'Net Revenue' (total general revenue less total net expenses) was positive in 2012 but was negative in two of the past eight years (2005 and 2009). This amount, however, does not include changes in liabilities not fully disclosed such as pensions and retiree health insurance. Read more on 'Net Revenue'.
Wisconsin vs Illinois: best and worst when it comes to pensions


How striking a difference in borders makes! The state of Wisconsin has the strongest-funded state pension plan system in the United States while Illinois has the weakest, according to a research report issued today by Morningstar, Inc.