Small group of firms “cautiously optimistic” about laws on deferral of property tax

The head of the Small Business Association of Michigan says he is "cautiously optimistic" that Governor Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers can agree on a bill that would allow businesses to defer property tax payments.

Whitmer vetoed legislation that lawmakers passed this summer, with broad support from both parties, to allow property tax bills to be deferred that summer. The move would have brought some relief to the companies affected by the pandemic and the state-ordered closings in the spring.

SBAM President Brian Calley

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases this fall and the partial closure of dine-in services in bars and restaurants, as well as retail capacity restrictions, a Senate bill similar to the veto given by SBAM President Brian has been passed in Lansing Calley.

The Senate and State House could respond to the bill next week, he added.

The bill would have to be approved by the governor to become law. Because of his talks, the Whitmer administration is "at least open" to another look at the same concept that was vetoed this summer.

“The idea of ​​deferring property tax bills with no penalty or interest – especially for companies that have to close or are severely restricted – is only fair. That only makes sense, ”Calley said in an SBAM briefing on Thursday.

Given the previous and past pandemic restrictions, Rob Fowler, CEO of SBAM, said it is not an insult to injury for your government to tell you, "You can't be open, but here is your property tax bill."

"Property taxes on closed companies are still property taxes," said Fowler.

The state this week offered some relief for small businesses by offering a one-month extension for paying monthly sales, usage, and withholding taxes.

The Michigan Treasury Department These companies can postpone filing and paying tax payments – due December 20th – to January 20th.

In a December 8 notice, Treasury said it would automatically waive penalty and interest for late reporting or late payment of sales, use, and withholding taxes for non-expedited returns or payments due on December 20, 2020.

The waiver is an attempt to "alleviate some of the current challenges these businesses face" affected by the current restrictions, including "entertainment venues, recreational and public entertainment venues and indoor restaurants," according to the Treasury Department Department note.

"It's an attempt to help a little with cash flow," said Calley, who sees the move as "perhaps a hint" that the governor may not extend current restrictions beyond December 20.

"If they kept things closed for another two or three weeks, sales and use taxes (payments) and withholdings that were extended by a month wouldn't make much sense," Calley said. "Maybe there is a hint there, maybe not, that we are nearing the end."