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Home Builders Lobby Now Targeting Michigan Legislature for More Tax Handouts

2 min readBy: Gerald Prante

This blog has long documented the pathetic (as measured by truthful substance) campaigns put forth by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors when it comes to federal taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. policy. Now they are at work at the state government level. And where else would you expect a state to approve more bad tax policy than Michigan? This morning’s Tax Analysts reports that both Republicans and Democrats are seeking to provide relief from the “pop-up tax” as the article calls it. Here’s more:

Michigan home builders are working to promote a package of bills that would offer some tax incentives in an effort to revive the sluggish industry.

Builders from around the state rallied at the state capitol on May 20 to encourage lawmakers to revisit the package, called Stand Up for Housing: Foundation for Recovery.

The Republican Senate in March passed a bill (SB 1247) that would give home buyers tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. s to offset the tax increases that typically occur when homes are sold and reassessed. Under the bill, home buyers could avoid the so-called pop-up tax by purchasing a house to be used as a primary residence between April of this year and January 1, 2011.

Lawmakers are expected to try to reconcile the bills into final legislation over the next several weeks. Compromises could include offering deferred property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. es on unsold construction, a moratorium on the pop-up tax, income tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements, and prorated homestead property taxes.

So here’s the deal. Property taxes on existing homes that have not been sold in some time are too low and not assessed at their full market value. So what’s wrong with that according to the Home Builders? The fact that when sold, the house is temporarily taxed at its actual market value in the first year (and then receives favorable treatment thereafter). This is nonsense. The problem stems from the fact that different housing is treated differently based upon how long the current owner has owned the property. That should be fixed, but not in the way the Home Builders want. Because while this would cut property tax bills, local governments will then look to Lansing for more money, meaning you can expect higher sales, income, or corporate income taxA corporate income tax (CIT) is levied by federal and state governments on business profits. Many companies are not subject to the CIT because they are taxed as pass-through businesses, with income reportable under the individual income tax. es in Michigan. (Like that would surprise anyone?)

And if this is good tax policy according to the Home Builders, why should it only be temporary?

Also income tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements are ridiculous, especially at the state level. If policymakers are serious about the environment, they should call on the federal government to impose a national cap-and-trade system or a national carbon taxA carbon tax is levied on the carbon content of fossil fuels. The term can also refer to taxing other types of greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane. A carbon tax puts a price on those emissions to encourage consumers, businesses, and governments to produce less of them. as opposed to subsidized products hand-picked by politicians.