Terrence Wall is just a little defensive

Terrence WallThere’s been a lot written about the efforts undertaken by Madison-area real estate developer Terrence Wall to avoid paying taxes on properties he own in the Madison area, and as a result of what’s been written, Wall sent an email to Capital Times reporter Mike Ivey responding to what’s been written. In his response, Wall somehow tries to equate his conversion of an expensive and valuable piece of commercial real estate in the heart of Middleton into a rotting pumpkin patch (where the pumpkins are given away, thus undermining actual pumpkin farmers) with taking a home mortgage deduction on your taxes if you own a home. If homeowners who have a garden were able to convert that portion of their residentially zoned property into agricultural zoning, Wall may have a point, but they can’t so he doesn’t.

In his response, Wall also claimed that the law is working “exactly as the legislature intended.” However, WKOW-TV in Madison did a story on the issue and when asked, Paul Musser, Middleton’s city assessor, questioned the law’s application to Wall’s scenario and other similar approaches:

“I don’t think that’s what it originally was set up to be. It was originally set up to preserve farmland.”

Preserving farmland and avoiding paying taxes are not the same thing, no matter what Terrence Wall may want people to think, but the part of Wall’s response that I find to be most hypocritical is this:

Liberals have never found a tax increase they didn’t like. They will always argue for higher taxes, higher assessments, higher fees, because for many of them, their very own livelihood depends on ever increasing the size of government. In their minds, the private sector should always pay more, but more is never enough for them.

I wonder….does Terrence Wall’s hypocrisy know no end? After all, while he’s attacking liberals for their supposed dependence on government, let’s not forget that Terrence Wall’s company is a frequent recipient of government help. For example, Wall requested 65 million dollars in TIF subsidies for a project of his in Middleton, so unless he’s willing to disavow any government handouts for his business ventures, Terrence Wall shouldn’t attack liberals for their supposed dependence on government.


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11 thoughts on “Terrence Wall is just a little defensive

  1. Excellent post Zach.
    Another point, I hate generalizations about liberals and taxes…how does my livelihood depend on increasing the size of government? It makes no sense.

    1. Jim, it’s always generalizations when it comes to attacking liberals. Didn’t you know we’re all “tax and spend” liberals who support “death panels,” unlimited abortions with no restrictions, and who hate America and everything it stands for!

  2. zach resoning is common practice and lots of developers do it.If you want to talk about tax cheats just look at the people Obama has working for him.You could blog for months maybe years

  3. My thought is that Wall’s response is factually correct but that his conclusion is too broad.

    First, his analagoy of mortgage deductions are is appropriate. There shouldn’t be a double standard for politicians and non-politicians regarding taking a deductions.

    Second, Musser’s assertion regarding the purpose of the law is incorrect. The law’s purpose is to preserve the farmers not the farm land. (After all, if the goal was to increase the amount of farm land, we wouldn’t reduce the amount of farm land through farm subsides.) To that end, I think Wall’s point is fair because even if he isn’t farming himeslef, he helps keep the cost of farming down by leasing the land to farmers at agriculture lease rates.

    If homeowners who have a garden were able to convert that portion of their residentially zoned property into agricultural zoning, Wall may have a point, but they can’t so he doesn’t.

    Actually, in many places they can. I know a few people that were able to re-calssify portions of their land as agriculture by putting up christmas tree farms on their lots. And after going to Hawaii, I noticed that many land owners had a few fruit trees, or coffee trees to obtain agriculture tax rates.

    My fault with Wall’s analysis is his conclusion. He makes broad brush attacks about liberals and big government while taking advantage of a big government program.

  4. I cannot criticize anyone who has spent his whole working career arranging decent places for people to work, live, shop, and congregate. That is a respectable undertaking, and it comes with a price. That price Terrence Wall has paid. Just as anyone else would, he has calculated his numbers, paid his expenses, taken the risks, and as a result, a number of other people now have a place to live or work or whatever. That’s called an economy. And Terrence Wall has contributed to building it. Locally. Can his opponent (with a career based on government money) claim to know what taking a chance really is?

    As far as I’m concerned, our government should be primarily made up of economic leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs. If you want a good economy, those are the people you turn to. They can make it happen.

    1. Using a fact I just learned from a National Review article from 1992 regarding Feingold’s original Senate bid: I think running for a Senate primary with polls in the single digits only weeks before the election, then receiving 70% of the vote involves “taking a chance” at some point.
      Also, Feingold is one of the least wealthy Senators.
      Wall’s family was rich. He didn’t build his business from nothing. I don’t see much chance taking in that. I’m not insulting Wall for his occupation or family, but your comparisons are completely misguided, to say the least.

      1. Jim, you raise an excellent point. While there’s no disputing Terrence Wall got where he is today through hard work, he also had a leg up, given his family’s wealth. After all, I’m sure if I had a rich dad to help me get started, I’d be far more financially well-off than I am today.

  5. The whole point is that Terrence Wall used his money to create jobs, create economic activity. And you are faulting him for doing that when you criticize how he leverages purchases with TIF money. The purpose of TIF money is to stimulate growth. It’s an incentive to get things moving, but it only works when a businessman puts some of his money and assets and employees on the line along with that help.

    Russell Feingold took a chance, you say? Did that involve a situation which would have left him broke???
    No. He ran for one office while leaving another, and lots of people take chances to gain elected office. There’s nothing particularly heroic about it. His margins of victory for the US Senate have only once been out of the single digits. Defeating incumbents who have been around forever has been a nice opportunity for him.

    But now, he is the incumbent. At least half of the state will be looking at his record and wondering what it amounts to. What is always most important is what a politician does when they get there. Perhaps this state likes mavericks, but even mavericks eventually have to solve problems or get out of the way.

    …and that, I assume will set you guys up for all kinds of responses.

    1. Pat, though T. Wall may have created jobs and economic activity, I’d argue that’s been offset by the lengths he’s gone to in order to avoid paying taxes. You say he’s created jobs and economic activity, and I say he’s loopholed his way out of paying $111,000 in taxes (that we know of) that the City of Middleton could have no doubt used to provide services. Heck, perhaps if T. Wall paid his fair share of taxes, regular non-millionaire folks might not have to shoulder so much of the tax burden.

    2. Short answer, it appears Wall was insulting government (common GOP tactic) while on the other hand asking for help from the government (the TIF).

      I’ve got no problem with using TIF districts, I think they are a great tool, and if properly executed, everyone benefits.

  6. Any idea how much he has paid in taxes? Millions of square feet built or renovated, hundreds to thousands of contractor jobs doing it, real estate bills over decades, c’mon guys be fair about this! He.s probably paid more taxes on a year than we might in twenty. How about all the taxes paid by anyone working for him? Let’s talk about the differences in philosophy and direction he would take the country instead of just dismissing him outright as some sort of snake oil salesman.

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