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Yes. With the approval of the income tax proposal, the City Charter amendment approved by voters in November 2017 will go into effect, reducing the City's operating millage by 5 mills. Property owners will see this reduction on their July 2019 tax bills. This reduction in property taxes will lessen the impact of the income tax on property owners and, in some cases (i.e. retirees whose pension and social security income is exempt from the tax), the overall amount of taxes paid may actually decrease.
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An income tax is a tax levied by a government directly on a percentage of income; it’s typically an annual tax on personal and business income. For a city income tax, the percentage is established at 1% for residents and .5% for non-residents. See Question #5 under the FAQs for Individuals for income that is exempt from the tax.
In addition to East Lansing, 23 other Michigan communities have an income tax. The communities with a standard 1% income tax for residents include: Albion, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Flint, Grayling, Hamtramck, Hudson, Ionia, Jackson, Lansing, Lapeer, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, Port Huron, Portland, Springfield, Walker and Benton Harbor. The communities that tax at a higher rate as permitted by statute include: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Highland Park and Saginaw. East Lansing's tax will never exceed 1%.
Property taxes will not increase without a vote of the people in years in which an income tax is imposed. The City Charter caps property taxes at 13 mills (20 mills prior to the income tax) in years in which an income tax is imposed. Any future increase above 13 mills in years in which an income tax is imposed would require another Charter Amendment, which would require another vote of the people.
If you are a resident of East Lansing who owns your own home, it will depend on your household income and the taxable value of your home. Your taxable income will be taxed at 1% and your total property taxes will decrease by about 10%. *Note that retirement income is not taxable locally, so seniors on fixed incomes who own their homes will, in many cases, see a reduction in their total taxes. Residents with specific questions about how the income tax and property tax reduction will impact them may want to consider consulting with a local tax office/professional. A Taxpayer Impact Calculator For Residents is also available (for estimation purposes only).
According to Plante Moran’s Income Tax Study, the income tax is expected to produce approximately $10 million, but with an estimated $5 million less in property taxes as a result of the property tax reduction, the total net revenue is estimated to be $5 million annually to be used for the dedicated purposes outlined in the ballot language. The income tax will help the City to maintain its core services, make supplemental pension payments (the City is legally obligated to make these payments for retired City employees) and reinvest in City infrastructure and public safety.
The income tax will be implemented on January 1, 2019 and the property tax reduction will be seen on July 2019 tax bills.
Income tax information is confidential except where a court orders the release of information. It will be no different than Federal or State tax information. All filings are confidential per MCL 141.674.
Councilmembers will not have access to this information. The City has hired a third party contractor to administer the tax. This contractor will receive the income tax information and complete the auditing of all returns. The City will have an income tax administrator on staff with access to the income tax software, but he/she will be held to the confidentiality rules noted above. No City employee or department will be provide the information for any purpose other than administration of the income tax.
425 agreements will not generally be impacted by the income tax. The agreements all contemplate the possibility of an income tax and designate the residents as City residents for such a purpose and designate the tax revenues as belonging to the City. The millage proposed to be assessed along with the income tax will still be above the various millage amounts required to be given back to the Townships under the revenue sharing provisions. The Townships will still get their share pursuant to the agreements regardless of an income tax.
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