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taxes

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan municipalities would be prohibited from levying local taxes on food and beverages under a bill advancing to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk for his expected signature.

No local government in Michigan is now considering such a tax. But lawmakers say it is possible, pointing to Philadelphia and Chicago as places with soda taxes. Similar taxes have been approved in San Francisco and Oakland, California.

I had lunch yesterday with Mark Bernstein, the University of Michigan trustee who flirted with a run for governor next year before deciding not to.

He is smart, funny, and I think genuinely committed to making the university and this state a better place. We were talking about what’s wrong with state government when he said something that suddenly hit me like a revelation.

We were talking about how attitudes have changed, and he said, “I think a big part of it is that instead of seeing ourselves as citizens, we now see ourselves as taxpayers.”

jimmywayne / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

What can a city facing $200 million in long term debt do?

Raising taxes is one option.

That’s why the City of East Lansing has drawn up an income tax proposal for the November ballot. If approved by voters, residents would pay a 1% tax on their income. Non-residents who work in the city would pay 0.5%.

Tampons.
user m.p.3. / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The so-called “tampon tax” has got to go. That’s the message of lawmakers in both chambers of the state Legislature.

Democrats and a couple Republicans are teaming up to get rid of Michigan’s use tax and sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Michigan exempts food, medication and other necessities from taxes, and lawmakers argue feminine hygiene products are just as essential. 

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

There’s a split emerging between Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders in the Legislature over cutting taxes.

Governor Snyder will present a budget next week for the coming fiscal year. Some Republican leaders in the Legislature are pushing for tax cuts. That includes an income tax rollback and some lawmakers are taking aim at the tax on pensions.

Snyder is pushing back. The pension tax was one of his first budget reforms after he took office in 2011. Snyder says that was only fair to people who were paying taxes on 401 (k) and other retirement plans.

For a while yesterday, it looked as if we might have some hope of better things from Lansing.

New Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, seems to be a genuinely well-liked man, who has talked about reaching across party lines.

FLICKR USER ALAN CLEAVER/FLICKR

ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) - An Upper Peninsula city has won a key ruling in a legal dispute over how to value big-box stores for tax purposes.

Value has been a hot issue in Michigan, especially in the U.P. where communities have been forced to give refunds based on decisions by the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

But Escanaba successfully argued that the Tribunal used the wrong standard to determine the value of a Menards store. In a 3-0 decision released Friday, the Michigan appeals court sent the case back to the Tribunal for more work.

dictionary definition of tax
Flickr user Alan Cleaver/Flickr

The so-called "dark store" approach to valuing property — an approach which allows stores to base their property taxes on the stores that have closed around them — has allowed big box stores in Michigan to cut their taxes by at least $100 million. It has left communities around the state struggling to find the money they need to pay for municipal services.

 

Some politicians, including state Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg, hopes to close the dark store tax loophole with bipartisan legislation, House Bill 5578.

Report: Michigan's tax burden below national average

May 2, 2016
money
user penywise / morgueFile

Not many people like paying taxes, but at least Michigan residents get to say "it could be worse." 

Citizens Research Council of Michigan's new report shows the state ranks 35th in state and local tax burden compared to the other states in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., according to data from 2013. 

Michigan was among the top ten states nationally for property tax burden 30 years ago, but is now 26th for per capita property tax revenue, the report said. 

FLICKR USER ALAN CLEAVER / FLICKR

April 15th, the looming tax deadline, is approaching.

While it can be complicated for anyone to figure out what we owe Lansing and Uncle Sam, there’s a particular group facing extra complications: same-sex couples in Michigan. These couples can file a joint form for their federal taxes, but the state of Michigan considers them single.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People heading to the library to pick up paper copies of federal tax forms are disappointed to find many of them aren’t there this year.

The IRS is saving money by sending libraries only the most common forms on paper. You can find tax forms online and e-file or print them at the library. But the instruction book is more than 100 pages long.

Prisons are overfilling with an increasingly aging population.
User kIM DARam / flickr.com

Getting tough on crime. For many, that means putting criminals behind bars, lengthy sentences, and tough parole guidelines.

World Resources Institute

Are cash-starved state legislatures taxing the energy industry as much as they could? 

Barry Rabe is director of the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State and Urban Policy. He's one of the co-authors of a new report that tracks how states are taxing thousands of new oil and gas wells.

Rabe says so-called severance taxes arose from the question, ‘What happens when you take a non-renewable natural resource and remove it for some kind of use?’

He says it's an issue some states are facing for the first time, including North Dakota, which is booming because of oil. Rabe notes that 65% of North Dakota’s budget will come from energy taxes.

Alliance for Retired Americans / Flickr

Seniors could play an important role in the upcoming election, as Michiganders age 50 and older are expected to represent well over half of the voters who show up to the polls next week. That’s pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But as Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, seniors and retirees are playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

There’s an old saying I know you’ve heard: “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin said that, by the way. He was a shrewd old cynic who I think would be much more at home in the world today than the other founding fathers.

And I’d also guess Old Ben wouldn’t be surprised to know that his death-and-taxes maxim was, like most things, only about half right. Death remains certain, even if we don’t know where or when. But there is very little certain about taxes.

Oh, we are certain to be taxed, in one form or another. Which is a good thing, if you like clean water, fire departments and schools.

But who pays and who should pay the taxes?

What we should be asking is: How high should taxes be? How do you set tax rates to give us the services we need and help the economy grow? To me, those are terribly important questions.Well, we now have some answers.

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.
Flickr.com

 

Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a flexible tool for downtown development authority boards aiming to encourage private investment and increase the taxable value of their municipality.

TIFs enable portions of a city’s regular property tax to be used for economic development, without a vote from taxpayers. There are eight types of authorities in Michigan that can engage in this type of financing.

David Bieri is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.

Bieri explains the good and bad uses of TIFs. In the early 2000s, DDAs from Kalamazoo to Detroit addressed blight through brownfield remitigation. On the other hand, Bieri cites Bloomfield Park, the unfinished mini-city in Bloomfield Hills, as an example of TIFs gone bad: Blight was created rather than mitigated. 

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill to clarify that Michigan never intended to give out-of-state companies a lower tax liability in a 2007 business tax overhaul.

The legislation is designed to ensure the state isn't forced to pay $1.1 billion in refunds in 134 cases after a July ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court in a case involving IBM. The administration and lawmakers worried the court's 4-3 decision could affect other cases in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax years.

Snyder said in statement Friday that the bill is a "common-sense solution" encouraging companies to invest and create jobs in Michigan. The state estimates most of the $1.1 billion in refunds would have been paid in the fiscal year that starts in October, throwing the budget out of balance.

They used to say that the definition of a recession was when your neighbor lost his job, and a depression was when you lost yours.

Well, after this week’s monumental Detroit-area rainstorm and flood, we now have a new definition for our dictionary of popular economics. You can say that wasteful government spending is when Washington or Lansing helps someone else.

Proper allocation of scarce resources is when they help -- you.

That may sound like a joke, but all too many people subconsciously feel that way.

You need only drive through the streets of communities like blue-collar Warren and more affluent Huntington Woods to get a sense of the scope of this week’s destruction.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has called on Washington for assistance, saying “if the federal government can help flood-damaged communities in various countries, I think they can help flood damage in the city of Warren.”

Good luck with that.

IRS Form 1040.
stockphotosforfree.com

Michigan has been cutting taxes for the past 20 years. The key selling point has been that slashing taxes will create economic prosperity.

A new report by the former head of the state Treasury Department's Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, Douglas Drake, says these tax cuts have instead drained Michigan of economic life, with our per-capita income rank tumbling, and our unemployment rate way above the national average.

Charles Ballard is an economist from Michigan State University.

*Listen to the full show above.

I think the low point in my faith in democracy came late this winter, soon after I had lost one tire to a pothole. I got home after nearly losing another on the lunar surface of a suburban Detroit mile road, just in time to hear a state senator claiming we needed another tax cut.

Well, I thought, I am now living in a Third World country. But guess what? That senator heard from his constituents, big-time. Before long, he was retreating from his tax-cut talk, legislative tail between his legs. Why?

To quote the leader of his caucus, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville R- Monroe, “I’ve heard the message loud and clear that the roads are messed up, and I think the most common phrase I’m hearing from back home is 'just fix the damn roads.'"

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposal to greatly increase Michigan’s gas tax goes before a state Senate committee tomorrow.

The proposal has already cleared the state House. Among other things, it calls for taxing fuel based on price, instead of volume. It would generate about $500 million in new tax revenue. That's about a third of what Gov. Rick Snyder and others say is needed to fix the roads.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan senators are considering whether to significantly increase gasoline taxes over five years to mend roads and bridges.

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.

It would initially generate $450 million a year, mostly by diverting money from elsewhere in the budget.

Every society functions at least partly on a set of myths. Sometimes these have been highly destructive. For example, believing you are the master race and everyone else deserves to be slaves has potentially destructive consequences.

America has largely operated on good myths, good because most of them had some grain of truth.

For example, the theories that all men are created equal, or that anyone can become rich or succeed at any occupation they choose. Those ideas have, by and large, encouraged hard work and a belief in the future.

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out a new statewide recycling plan that aims to increase recycling across the state. Michigan is seventh among the eight Great Lakes states in its recycling performance, and the governor as well as recycling activists agree that we can do a lot better. 

The intersection of college athletics and college academics often causes controversy. To what degree are student athletes allowed to get away with lighter class loads in order for them to play? Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek joined us to answer that very question.

Tax day is tomorrow and procrastinators out there are scrambling to file. Detroit News Finance Editor Brian O'Connor joined us to explain how we can decrease our chances of being audited. 

On the West Coast during World War II, hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps. Matt Faulkner, an author and illustrator for kids, tells the story of these internments in his most recent graphic novel, Gaijin. 

levistaxes.com

It's here, or at least it's almost here: Tax day is tomorrow, April 15. 

You procrastinators are likely waiting until the proverbial 11th hour to file. Others may be already opening the envelope with their refund check. 

But lurking in the back of many minds is that nagging question: Will I get audited? 

In actuality, your likelihood of being audited is pretty low, about one in 100, although as your income increases, so do your odds. 

Let's find out how to decrease your chances of being audited, and the dos and don'ts if the IRS decides to take a closer look at your tax return.

Today we're joined by Detroit News Finance Editor Brian O'Connor. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation designed to ensure local government budgets aren't hurt if manufacturers and small businesses get planned tax cuts.

A phase-out of taxes on industrial machinery starts in 2016 and is underway for small businesses with equipment. The tax cuts will be halted if a statewide vote fails in August.

R. Kurtz / flickr

We're getting ready for a new project here at State of Opportunity, and we're excited about it.

We'll take the experiences of families in towns and cities around the state and turn them into useful news – the kind of news that usually travels between two people when they talk about the way things really work.

Part of what makes this project work are stories and insights from you and the people you know. 

Right now, we're looking for stories about taxes.

In an apparent attempt to pander to voters, the Michigan Legislature is rushing to pass an election year income tax cut. This is a little baffling, because the voters don’t want one.

The state has a budget surplus – on paper, anyway – of a little less than a billion dollars. Two weeks ago, an EPIC-MRA poll found only 11% of the voters thought a tax cut was a good idea. The rest were divided about evenly between those who wanted it to go to schools and those who want it to go to our roads.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says he won't reconsider a controversial tax on income of certain Michigan retirees.

Michigan has a large budget surplus, but Snyder tells The Detroit News that revisiting the 2012 tax is not on his radar. He calls it an issue of fairness, saying pensions shouldn't be treated differently for tax purposes than other retirement income.

user The Geary's / Flickr

If you need a vital record in Michigan, you'll likely pay more.

MLive's Jonathan Oosting reports a bill recently passed by the state Senate now heads to Gov. Snyder's desk:

Under House Bill 4786, the basic fee for a vital record search will rise from $26 to $34, while an authenticated copy of a birth, death, marriage or divorce record will rise from $29 to $42. Creation of new birth or death certificate will rise from $40 to $50.

Recent budgets for the Department of Community Health have assumed $5.5 million a year in vital records collections, but according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, revenues have come up short in recent years, leaving a $1.5 million structural deficit that the increased fees are designed to remedy.

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