Do I Need to File a State Tax Return in Wisconsin?

by Lesley Graybeal ; Updated July 27, 2017

The complete range of Wisconsin tax forms are available online from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for individuals to either file electronically or fill out with the help of a tax preparer. Wisconsin has five income tax brackets based on level of income, the highest of which paid state income tax at a rate of 7.75 percent in 2009. Instructions for filling out each form are also available from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, where you also can track information on already filed returns.

Determine Residency for State Income Tax Purposes

You are considered a Wisconsin resident for state income tax purposes if you have lived in Wisconsin for the entire year. If you are a Wisconsin resident, you may need to file Wisconsin tax forms WI-Z, 1A or 1, depending on your filing status and the number and type of claims or adjustments you make. File a Wisconsin tax return whether you have had taxes withheld from your paychecks or paid estimated taxes on a quarterly basis.

File a Wisconsin Tax Return for Income Earned in Wisconsin

Individuals who maintain a permanent residence outside Wisconsin, but who earn income based in Wisconsin, are not considered Wisconsin residents for state income tax purposes. They do, however, have to file a Wisconsin tax return. If you earn income in Wisconsin but have spent any portion of the year in a permanent residence outside of the state, file form 1NPR. Be aware that if you lived in Wisconsin for only part of the year, you will also likely need to file a state tax return in the state or states where you spent the rest of the year.

Check Your Level of Income to Determine Filing Needs

You are required to file a Wisconsin tax return if your income exceeds $9,660, or $18,000 for a married couple filing jointly, according to 2009 state regulations. These amounts differ slightly for individuals over age 65 or filing as heads of household. Nonresidents who are required to pay state income tax in Wisconsin must file a Wisconsin tax return if they have earned $2,000 or more, regardless of age or filing status. If your income is less than this amount, you may file Wisconsin tax forms, but you will not be penalized if you do not file a state income tax return. Check IRS rules and regulations that apply to your federal tax forms to ensure that you follow the correct federal tax return procedures.

Determine the Filing Status of Dependents and Deceased Individuals

Dependents and deceased individuals may also need to have a Wisconsin tax return filed. Individuals who are being claimed as dependents on someone else's tax return must still file their own return if they have an income of more than $900 and $301 or more is non-wage income. Dependents must also file a tax return if their gross income exceeds $8,960 for single filers and $16,140 for married couples filing jointly, according to 2009 filing regulations. Taxes should be filed on behalf of deceased individuals using whatever form they would have used when living, including income until the date of death.

About the Author

Lesley Graybeal has been writing articles for internet content since 2006. Her work can be found on a range of hobby and business resource web publications, including and, as well as several academic journals. Lesley earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from the University of Georgia, and is currently completing her dissertation in Social Foundations of Education.