No Michigan Tax Deal Is Ever Worth The Paper It Is Written On
Since our devious Governor and his RINO caucus pulled out all the stops to quash the HB 4001 decrements in the state income tax last Thursday, it has dawned on Michigan politicians that the optics of the SB 111 – 115 Dan Gilbertville tax breaks just got real ugly. You can’t hand $ 1.8 billion of state revenue over to politically connected developers after stiffing the public at large without gruesome consequences. This is going to decrement some Senators’ campaign finance committee balances.
No one should fault Speaker Leonard for putting HB 4001 up for a losing vote. Bottling up and fiddling legislation behind closed doors until a winning margin is assured is not an exemplar of government transparency. Brits and Europeans may regard such shifty back room shenanigans as the hallmark of sophisticated political process, but here in America constituents want to know exactly how they are being represented. Thursday’s vote told us more about the RINOs in the Michigan House than years of deceitful political media articles and reports.
Thank you Speaker Leonard for fostering genuine political transparency. Long overdue in Michigan.
It now appears that killing both tax reductions was the plan all along. Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Municipal League just launched a trial balloon to gut the Proposal A constitutional amendment of 1994. Proposal A limited the tax depredations of government employees acting through their local units of government, a popular activity in Michigan’s more leftward big cities and counties. The sales tax was increased 50%, but property owners got some constitutionally protected tax relief in return.
Local government employees and their Democratic political puppets want to renege on the 1994 Proposal A tax deal. Well, not entirely. Just the constitutionally protected property tax relief. No one is offering to restore the 4% sales tax rate. What was it JFK said about negotiating with the Soviets? “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” Public employees and their subservient Democratic politicians have a lot of gall claiming that President Trump is a Russian stooge and a neo communist tyrant to boot.
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Desperate Local Politicians Seek to Preserve Surreptitious Business Activities Tax
Less noticed during this year’s roads tax furore, a roiling commercial property tax dispute has exposed a widespread, sub rosa business activities tax hidden in commercial real property taxes. A hidden tax you have been paying with every purchase at big box chain retailers who occupy stores they themselves own. Big box retailers have been exposing and successfully challenging this corrupt assessing practice through the Michigan Tax Tribunal and local units of government are howling over the loss of their ill gotten revenue. Michael B. Shapiro of Honigman, Miller has been leading the charge against these bloated assessments.
Local units of government are demanding the Michigan Legislature overturn long standing real estate valuation principles and the Michigan court rulings which hold that assessed true cash value (i.e. fair market value) for tax purposes be based upon what a property would be sold for at arm’s length. They want true cash value to effectively incorporate the retail success of current owner-occupants. This artificially jacks up the property’s true cash value, its taxes, and the prices you pay at the store. Remember that businesses don’t pay taxes, customers of those businesses – in this case you – do.
Michigan’s nitwit media have deceitfully relabeled traditional true cash value assessment the ‘Dark Stores Loophole’. Local government organizations are screaming about lost revenues. Even MoveOn.org is right in there with a petition to support their favorite spenders. This is a devious effort to stampede our state’s legislators into codifying creative assessment methods solely intended to extract surreptitious revenues from shoppers. A follow on to the more blatant ‘Amazon Tax’ campaign of 2014. The State of Michigan got into your pocket last year, now it is your local government’s turn.
The term ‘Dark Stores Loophole’ was created to suggest that vacant big box stores have lower, fire sale values when compared to occupied stores. True enough, but we are discussing assessments used to determine real estate, i.e. property, taxes. Not taxes on business activity. The two creative assessment methods used most often to loot shoppers are ‘construction cost‘ and ‘imputed lease‘ calculations. Each might be valid under some very limited circumstances, but both are entirely invalid when assessing big box retailers.
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