It’s an ancient joke that ran, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” People are no longer laughing.
If the joke is about the state government, they’re likely to cringe.
New laws, some good ones but most vague and ambiguous, new rules and new demands made on everyone who isn’t part of the state government, have generated frustration, confusion, fear and more work for less money.
Some are left with nothing but a bad taste in their mouths.
One of the most frustrating examples of this is the state tax commission and the wind turbines. The Michigan Tax Commission adopted new formulas for the taxable value of property regarding wind turbines.
As industrial personal property, wind turbines were to be taxed on 100 percent of their taxable value in the first year, and depreciated over 15 years down to 30 percent. In December, the policy was changed to taxing 80 percent in the first year and depreciating down to 30 percent over five years.
The tax commission changed the rules after Gratiot County had set its budget, counting on the tax revenue. Few, if anyone, saw it coming.
When the state tax commission changes the rules regarding taxes, it has to have a reason to do so, and it has to provide the documentation for that reason. Despite two Freedom of Information requests filed by counties, the tax commission has declined to provide that information.
That may be, as some have said, because the counties requesting the information did not frame the question correctly. Or, as others have said, the commission is simply stalling.
To the best of everyone’s knowledge, no one requested fewer tax dollars. The wind industry itself is on record as saying it didn’t make the request, because the fact the turbines will bring additional tax dollars to local units of government is a selling point when they want to build their wind farms.
It seems there should be a better approach to this. The county shouldn’t have to spend taxpayer dollars to hire a lawyer just to find out what is going on in Lansing.
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