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High Tech Zone Tax Credit Program

April 01, 2002

This past fall, Governor McCallum and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce proposed new Administrative Rules regarding the "Wisconsin Technology Zone Program." Under the proposed program, income tax credits will be offered as an incentive to high-technology businesses in specific geographic zones within the state, as designated by the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce has earmarked $5,000,000 annually in income tax credits for each of up to eight technology zones, for a period of ten years. The income tax credits are intended to encourage businesses to expand or locate in a designated high-technology zone.

In order to take advantage of the credit, businesses must apply for and be certified as eligible high-technology businesses. High-tech businesses are defined as primarily being engaged in research, development or the manufacture of a variety of advanced products, including biotechnology, chemicals, computer hardware or software, defense products, energy and environmental equipment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, transportation products, and telecommunication equipment, to name a few.

Upon certification by the Department of Commerce that an applicant is a high-technology business locating or expanding in a technology zone, the Department's certification makes the applicant eligible for Wisconsin state income tax credits. The actual amount that tax benefit-certified applicants are eligible for will be determined by the Department of Commerce based on a particular project's public purpose, the likelihood that the project will retain or increase employment in the state, and the likelihood that the project will positively affect the technology zone's overall business climate.

The proposed Administrative Rules are subject to public comment until November 28, 2002, and are not yet enacted as law. Revisions to the program are possible prior to its being finalized.

Businesses interested in learning more about the proposed administrative regulations and how they may affect the expansion or location of high-tech businesses should contact attorney Tim McCoy.

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