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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Most revenue from a City of Milwaukee sales tax must be spent on city employee pensions and most of the remainder on police and fire positions.

The Milwaukee Common Council voted July 11, 2023, to create a 2% city sales tax to take effect Jan. 1. Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he would sign the ordinance.

The authority to create the tax was provided by a state law signed June 20 by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

In 2024, up to 90% of the revenue would have to be put toward what the city owes for its pension obligations; 10% must be spent on maintaining certain levels of police, fire and emergency services staffing.

In subsequent years, if pension obligations are met, revenue must be spent on adding police and fire positions.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is considering whether to raise the county sales tax from 0.5% to 0.9%.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


City of Milwaukee A substitute ordinance relating to a city sales and use tax.

State of Wisconsin 2023 Assembly Bill 245

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.