Michigan Chamber Disappointed in Governor’s Property Tax Relief Veto

Charging that she has left businesses and individuals in Michigan “without a lifeline,” the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has voiced deep disappointment in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of property tax relief that had been passed by both houses of the Michigan Legislature.

The Chamber has expressed disappointment in the governor’s latest veto saying her actions will hurt Michigan businesses and individuals. The Chamber contends, “The Governor had an opportunity to assist struggling businesses and individuals with much needed property tax relief but instead, decided to veto any support, leaving businesses and individuals without a lifeline.”

Dan Papineau, Director of Tax Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the Chamber says, “When state government comes in and forces businesses to shut down for over an entire calendar quarter, leaving them without revenue to pay one of the largest annual expenses they face (if not the largest), it would make sense to give an extension,” and adds, “Giving businesses a short extension on paying their property taxes is a commonsense solution that will avoid further business closures and help our economy recover quicker. The bills had unanimous support in the House and overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.”

Papineau goes on to say, “For individuals that have lost their job and fallen on hard times, and are likely unable to receive their unemployment benefits, they will have the same problems as businesses who have made little if any revenue. To deny taxpayers this needed relief without trying to work cooperatively on a solution is a missed opportunity. All the issues raised by the Governor could have been resolved and denying taxpayers this relief could have been unquestionably avoided.”

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Cash flow and liquidity are the biggest issues facing businesses as they reopen due to the mandatory shutdown during COVID-19, and HB 5761 and HB 5810 would have provided taxpayers a 6-month, penalty and interest, free extension to make their property taxes.

After the 6-month period a taxpayer could work with their county Treasurer to enter an installment plan if more time to pay the summer levy is needed. However, Papineau warns, “Without this relief, the summer property tax bill could be the last nail in the coffin for several businesses.”

For her part, Whitmer had argued the measures would harm local budgets across the state and called one part of the proposed plan, “blatantly” unconstitutional. Admitting that the plan to delay tax payments was “commendable,” she argues that the plan “would push many local budgets over the precipice into fiscal crisis.”

The Michigan Chamber is a statewide business organization that represents approximately 5,000 employers, trade associations and local chambers of commerce. The Chamber represents businesses of every size and type in all 83 counties of the state. It was established in 1959 to be an advocate for Michigan job providers in the legislative, political and legal process.