Arbor Update

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Detroit News decries A2 income tax proposal

3. January 2005 • Murph
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The Detroit News has an article on proposed city income taxes in Ann Arbor, Ypsi, and Mount Clemens, including a complaint from a commuter that non-residents would be subject to the tax without an opportunity to vote on it:

“It’s like taxation without representation,” Rob Nicholl said . . . Nicholl, a native of England, now lives in Pinckney and commutes to his engineering job at Ann Arbor’s Federal-Mogul. “They could just be getting back (at me).”

The News also runs an editorial calling local income taxes “a desperation move that cost jobs, and ultimately tax revenue,” noting that while the University of Michigan is a “captive” employer, others (like Pfizer, Proquest, etc.) are not.

A poll on whether readers would support a local income tax shows 91% polling against, with comments indicating that the Detroit News’ readership is probably made up of TJ and the Michigan Review staff.

  1. There is no way voters in Ypsi are going to approve an income tax. It might pass in Ann Arbor. Expect to hear cries that the U doesn’t pay towards City police and fire and that the City needs to “capture tax revenue from students and other non-residents.”
       —Hillary    Jan. 4 '05 - 11:57AM    #
  2. Opposing an income tax is not an inherently conservative position. I do not think it is fair, for example, to levy an income tax on commuters who would like to live in Ann Arbor but cannot afford to do so. Any income tax ought to exempt those making below a certain amount, at the least the state median income.

    At any rate I seriously doubt an income tax will happen.
       —Matt    Jan. 4 '05 - 03:53PM    #
  3. Matt, regarding my dig on the MR, I wasn’t referring to the poll’s leaning, but to the written comments left on the poll by readers. While opposing an income tax is not inherently conservative (I oppose it quite strongly), the following sort of comments are:

    “We need to get rid of every single parasite in Lansing, and restrict how much time they spend in session to reduce the harm they inflict on the people.”

    “We all know that it is virtually impossible to get rid of dead weight in the government. If we had people who would genuinely work for their pay we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

    “We already eliminated the ability of the citizen to own property and now require them to pay RENT (“property tax”) which if they don’t pay results in their eviction and loss of their home or business.”
       —Murph    Jan. 4 '05 - 07:21PM    #
  4. You have to have an income tax to have some semblance of a just society. Rich people need to give their fair share so we can have things like decent public schools and roads that aren’t so shitty. It needs to be a progressive income tax. Those damn companies won’t leave, either; why give up the first-rate research here at UM?
       —Edward Atkinson    Jan. 5 '05 - 03:30AM    #
  5. Edward, do you think that local income taxes are worthwhile, or are you talking at a more state/nationwide level?

    The damn companies don’t have to leave very far – if Ann Arbor imposes an income tax on commuters, it would be an extra incentive for companies to set up shop in Scio/Pittsfield/Ypsi Townships instead of in Ann Arbor. (Proquest, for example, is in the process of consolidating from a Scio location plus an Ann Arbor location to just an Ann Arbor location, I believe – if their employees were unhappy about paying a commuter income tax, it’s likely they would have consolidated into the Scio location instead.)

    By causing businesses to locate outside of the city – but still in spitting distance of UMich’s research, if they care – an income tax could reduce the property tax base that maintains Ann Arbor’s roads, parks, police, etc, as well as increasing development (almost definitely car-dependant) in the surrounding area, and therefore increasing congestion, etc, in out-county areas. Blah.
       —Murph    Jan. 5 '05 - 11:47AM    #
  6. The rich are the ones that vote. It’ll never pass.

    “why give up the first-rate research here at UM?”

    There are plenty of places in the country doing research. Last I heard (and granted, that was 2 years ago), the UofM was having a serious problem recruiting researchers to work at the LSI. A city income tax certainly isn’t going to help them.

    Corporate taxes may not force the current companies to leave, but it will weigh heavy on the minds of companies considering Ann Arbor in the future.
       —Hillary    Jan. 5 '05 - 12:11PM    #