Wisconsin Mechanics Lien Overview

Wisconsin law addresses prompt payment for public projects, but not for private projects.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s prompt payment statutes set forth specific timeframes for when general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and others involved with a public construction project must be paid. This page provides an overview of these regulations and addresses frequently asked questions related to the Wisconsin prompt payment laws.

Prompt Payment Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have To Send A Letter or File Anything To Qualify For Prompt Payment Penalties or Remedies in Wisconsin?

In order for the provisions of the Wisconsin prompt pay statutes to apply, the party requesting payment must be entitled to payment pursuant to the terms of the contract, and must submit an invoice. In order to be entitled to attorneys’ fees, a claimant must be the prevailing party in an action to recover interest pursuant to the Act.

Can I Include Prompt Payment Fees In My Wisconsin Mechanics Liens Claim or Bond Claim?

No. Wisconsin doesn’t allow miscellaneous amounts to be included on the face of a bond claim.

If I am paid late according to prompt payment statutes, can I obtain interest or other penalty payments?

If interest applies it begins to accrue immediately upon the failure to make timely payment, with no other specific notice required. Note, however, that interest does not accrue in the following circumstances:

When payment is to be made from federal money
When interest or late-payment fee is applicable under another law
When the contract provides the consequences of untimely payment
If the late payment is subject to a good faith dispute.

Are there reasons for which payment may be withheld past the general deadline?

Wisconsin does not specify particular reasons for which payment may be withheld. Accordingly, the reasons for which payments may be withheld is likely governed by the parties’ contract.

Wisconsin Mechanics Lien Statutes

Getting informed about prompt payment laws is important. An examination of Wisconsin’s prompt payment laws, the rules and regulations related to payment timing, is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a party on a construction project. Wisconsin’s specific laws can be found in: Wis. Stat. §§ 16.528, 66.0135, and are reproduced below.

Prompt Payment Statute on Private Projects

N/A

Wisconsin law does not address prompt payment for private projects.

Prompt Payment Statute on Public Projects

§ 16.528: Interest on Late Payments
(1)Definitions. In this section:
(a) “Agency” means an office, department, independent agency, institution of higher education, association, society, or other body in state government created or authorized to be created by the constitution or any law, that is entitled to expend moneys appropriated by law, including the legislature and the courts, but not including an authority created in subch. II of ch. 114or in ch. 231233234237238, or 279.
(b) “Subcontractor” has the meaning given in s. 66.0901 (1) (d).
 (2) Interest payable.
(a) Except as provided in sub. (3) or as otherwise specifically provided, an agency which does not pay timely the amount due on an order or contract shall pay interest on the balance due from the 31st day after receipt of a properly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later, or, if the agency does not comply with s. 16.53 (2), from the 31st day after receipt of an improperly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later, at the rate specified in s. 71.82 (1) (a) compounded monthly.
(b) For the purposes of par. (a), a payment is timely if the payment is mailed, delivered or transferred by the later of the following:
1. The date specified on a properly completed invoice for the amount specified in the order or contract.
2. Except as provided in subd. 3., within 45 days after receipt of a properly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, or, if the agency does not comply with s. 16.53 (2), within 45 days after receipt of an improperly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later.
3. For orders or contracts entered into on and after the first day of the 3rd 12-month period beginning after February 1, 1987, within 30 days after receipt of a properly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, or, if the agency does not comply with s. 16.53 (2), within 30 days after receipt of an improperly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later.
 (2m) Interest payable to subcontractors.
(a) Except as provided in sub. (3) (e) or as otherwise specifically provided, principal contractors that engage subcontractors to perform part of the work on an order or contract from an agency shall pay subcontractors for satisfactory work in a timely fashion. A payment is timely if it is mailed, delivered or transferred to the subcontractor no later than 7 days after the principal contractor’s receipt of any payment from the agency.
(b) If a subcontractor is not paid in a timely fashion, the principal contractor shall pay interest on the balance due from the 8th day after the principal contractor’s receipt of any payment from the agency, at the rate specified in s. 71.82 (1) (a) compounded monthly.
(c) Subcontractors receiving payment under this subsection shall pay lower-tier subcontractors, and be liable for interest on late payments, in the same manner as principal contractors are required to pay subcontractors in pars. (a) and (b).
 (3) Exceptions.  Subsection (2) does not apply to the following:
(a) Any portion of an order or contract under which the payment is made from federal moneys.
(b) An order or contract that is subject to late payment interest or another late payment charge required by another law or rule specifically authorized by law.
(c) An order or contract between 2 or more agencies except if the order or contract involves prison industries.
(d) An order or contract for services which provides for the time of payment and the consequences of nontimely payment.
(e) An order or contract under which the amount due is subject to a good faith dispute if, before the date payment is not timely, notice of the dispute is sent by 1st class mail, personally delivered or sent in accordance with the procedure specified in the order or contract. In this paragraph, “good faith dispute” means a contention by an agency that goods delivered or services rendered were of a lesser quantity or quality than ordered or specified by contract, were faulty or were installed improperly; or any other reason giving cause for the withholding of payment by the agency until the dispute is settled.
 (4) Appropriation from which paid. An agency which pays interest under this section shall pay the interest from the appropriation for administration of the program under which the order or contract was made or entered into unless payment from that appropriation is prohibited. Notwithstanding ss. 20.115 to 20.765, if payment from the appropriation for administration of the program is prohibited, the interest payment shall be made from a general program operations appropriation of the agency determined by the agency. If the program is administered from more than one appropriation, the interest payment shall be made from the appropriation or appropriations for program administration determined by the agency.
 (5) Reports of interest paid. Annually before October 1, each agency shall report to the department the number of times in the previous fiscal year the agency paid interest under this section, the total amount of interest paid and the reasons why interest payments were not avoided by making timely payment.
 (6) Attorney fees. Notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1), in an action to recover interest due under this section, the court shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees.
§ 66.0135: Interest on Late Payments
 (1)  Definitions. In this section:
(a) “Agency” means any office, department, board, commission or other body under the control of the governing body of a local governmental unit which expends moneys or incurs obligations on behalf of the local governmental unit.
(b) “Good faith dispute” means any of the following:
1. A contention by an agency, principal contractor or subcontractor that goods delivered or services rendered were of a lesser quantity or quality than ordered or specified by contract, were faulty or were installed improperly.
2. Any other reason giving cause for the withholding of payment by an agency, principal contractor or subcontractor until the dispute is settled.
(c) “Local governmental unit” means a political subdivision of this state, a special purpose district in this state, an agency or corporation of a political subdivision or special purpose district, or a combination or subunit of any of the foregoing.
(d) “Subcontractor” has the meaning given in s. 66.0901 (1) (d).
 (2) Interest payable to principal contractors.
(a) Except as provided in sub. (4) or as otherwise specifically provided, an agency that does not pay timely the amount due on an order or contract shall pay interest on the balance due from the 31st day after receipt of a properly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later, or, if the agency does not comply with sub. (7), from the 31st day after receipt of an improperly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later, at the rate specified in s. 71.82 (1) (a) compounded monthly.
(b) For the purposes of par. (a), a payment is timely if the payment is mailed, delivered or transferred by the later of the following:
1. The date specified on a properly completed invoice for the amount specified in the order or contract.
2. Within 30 days after receipt of a properly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, or, if the agency does not comply with sub. (7), within 30 days after receipt of an improperly completed invoice or receipt and acceptance of the property or service under the order or contract, whichever is later.
 (3) Interest payable to subcontractors.
(a) Except as provided in sub. (4) (e) or as otherwise specifically provided, principal contractors that engage subcontractors to perform part of the work on an order or contract from an agency shall pay subcontractors for satisfactory work in a timely fashion. A payment is timely if it is mailed, delivered or transferred to the subcontractor no later than 7 days after the principal contractor’s receipt of any payment from the agency.
(b) If a subcontractor is not paid in a timely fashion, the principal contractor shall pay interest on the balance due from the 8th day after the principal contractor’s receipt of any payment from the agency, at the rate specified in s. 71.82 (1) (a) compounded monthly.
(c) Subcontractors receiving payment under this subsection shall pay lower-tier subcontractors, and be liable for interest on late payments, in the same manner as principal contractors are required to pay subcontractors in pars. (a) and (b).
 (4) Exceptions.  Subsection (2) does not apply to any of the following:
(a) Any portion of an order or contract for which the payment, from federal moneys, has not been received.
(b) An order or contract that is subject to late payment interest or another late payment charge required by another law or rule specifically authorized by law.
(c) An order or contract between 2 or more agencies of the same local governmental unit.
(d) An order or contract which provides for the time of payment and the consequences of nontimely payment, if any deviation from the deadlines established in sub. (2) appears in the original bid or proposal.
(e) An order or contract under which the amount due is subject to a good faith dispute if, before the date on which payment is not timely, notice of the dispute is sent by 1st class mail, personally delivered or sent in accordance with the procedure specified in the order or contract.
 (5) Appropriation from which paid. An agency that pays interest under this section shall pay the interest only from the appropriation for administration of the program under which the order or contract was made or entered into, unless otherwise directed by the governing body of the local governmental unit.
 (6) Attorney fees. Notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1), in an action to recover interest due under this section, the court shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees.
 (7) Improper invoices. If an agency receives an improperly completed invoice, the agency shall notify the sender of the invoice within 10 working days after it receives the invoice of the reason that it is improperly completed.