Trek hasn't paid net income taxes in 3 decades; now, Mary Burke responds

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- After FOX6 News found that Trek Bicycle hasn't paid net income taxes for three decades, Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke is defending her former company as a good corporate citizen.

During a campaign stop in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 6th, Burke described herself using a term usually associated with Gov. Scott Walker.

"I'm sort of a fiscal conservative," Burke said.

As the discussion turned to taxes, Burke told a crowd at a joint meeting of the Rotary Club and the Milwaukee Press Club that Wisconsin must keep pace with other states on corporate taxes.

"I'm not going to spend money unless it's money that is going to pay off. What I want to make sure is that we are being competitive, and we are not doing things that are going to stand in the way of competing for new jobs and making sure entrepreneurs and new businesses are able to grow," Burke said.

Afterwards, FOX6 asked her about our report that examined the tax records of her former company -- Trek Bicycle.

Wisconsin Department of Revenue information shows the company has not paid net income taxes in more than three decades.

"I do want to make perfectly clear -- it does pay taxes through its shareholders," Burke said.

The company files taxes under "Subchapter S" of the IRS code -- which allows shareholders of a company to pay at the lower personal tax rate -- not the corporate rate.

"Trek pays millions of dollars either directly or through its shareholders in property and income taxes. It is a great Wisconsin company that employs nearly 1,000 people, and does so much for the community," Burke said.

Burke paid more than $120,000 in personal taxes in 2012.

Gov. Walker told FOX6 News last week -- it won't be a focus of his re-election campaign.

"I'm not going to talk about somebody else's taxes or business dealings. I'm going to talk about how we've lowered the tax burden for the state, how more jobs have been created, how more opportunities have been created, and we took a budget deficit and turned it into a surplus, we're going to talk about our positive record," Gov. Walker said.

Burke is running for the Democratic nomination against state Rep. Brett Hulsey -- whose unorthodox campaign has received a lot of attention.

When asked on Tuesday, May 6th, Burke said her focus is on defeating Gov. Walker.