Reading an article in the Detroit Free Press this evening about how taxes are going up precipitously on working class Michiganders, I’m reminded of something that I wrote about a year ago for this site. Here’s how my post began.
Why is it that we allow the Republicans to refer to themselves as the anti-tax party, when they keep demonstrating that they clearly aren’t? Sure, they’re all for the cutting of business taxes, inheritance taxes, and other taxes that would threaten to decrease the wealth of their party’s high-net-worth donors, but, invariably, those shifts in tax policy lead to higher taxes for everyone else. Elsewhere around the United States, the shift may not be as plainly visible, but, here, in Michigan, it’s painfully obvious to all but the most delusional among us. As business taxes are being eliminated, and corporate taxes on capital assets are being phased out, the burden of maintaining public services is falling disproportionately on the shoulders of the non-wealthy, and we’re all feeling the increased financial pressure.
In Michigan, income taxes on the poor and middle class are rising, the pensions of our retirees are being taxed, tax credits for the working poor, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), are being slashed, and, with state assistance for higher education drying up, families are going into unprecedented debt in the hopes of securing stable futures for their children. The Republicans may not see all of these as tax increases, but they are. The increased insurance payments that many of us are forced to pay, because our local fire departments are being downsized, is essentially a tax. The same goes for the private school tuition that several of us are paying, rather than suffer through the constrictions of a public school system which is being systematically dismantled. And these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for regular working people in Michigan to merely sustain life. Fortunately for those in power, houses aren’t selling. If they were, I suspect that most of us would be gone.
And, as those of us in Ypsilanti can attest, it’s the folks who are living in Michigan’s aging cities that are feeling the brunt of this radical redistribution of wealth. With state revenue sharing for cities dropping precipitously, one-by-one communities are being asked to make the choice — either institute a personal income tax, and pay for our own city services, or submit to the rule of an unelected Emergency Financial Manager, who will be empowered to sell off our community assets at fire sale prices, dismiss our democratically elected officials, privatize city services, and break contracts with city employee unions, essentially stripping our carcass of what little meat there is left, and sealing our fate. As long as we don’t ask the wealthy in Michigan’s upscale gated communities to contribute toward the greater good, it’s all the same to the folks in Lansing. They’re allowing us to make the choice…
And this is apparently the tax season when we’re really going to start to feel it. Here’s the news from the Free Press.
In the height of tax season, don’t be surprised if you owe more to the taxman in Lansing.
Some major income tax changes approved 21 months ago by Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers are just now starting to hit Michigan taxpayers filing their state tax returns.
One of the most significant adjustments: Homeowners and renters used to qualify for a credit if their household income was no more than $82,650 a year. Now they don’t get it unless their total household resources are $50,000 or less and their home’s taxable value (roughly half the market value) is no more than $135,000.
That will affect about 400,000 returns.
The child deduction is gone. So are special exemptions for seniors and those getting at least half their income from unemployment checks.
A refundable credit for low-income workers was reduced, impacting about 783,000 returns. Eliminated are state credits for city income taxes, college tuition, adoptions and donations to universities, public radio and TV stations, food banks and homeless shelters.
Add it up and about half of all Michigan filers are seeing a considerable tax increase ahead of the April 15 deadline, said Terry Conley, a tax partner at Grant Thornton in Southfield…
For those of you who still aren’t grasping what’s happening, you might want to take a few minutes and check out this animated short produced by the California Federation of Teachers, featuring narration by Ed Asner. It does a pretty good job of getting right to the heart of the matter in a way that even the most uninformed Tea Partier could comprehend.