New Biz Tax Signed: Could It Cost You More?

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With a signature now in place, Michigan has a new tax to replace the old Single Business Tax lawmakers voted to repeal in August 2006.

"This Michigan Business Tax, as a replacement, will encourage businesses and jobs to grow in Michigan," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said after signing the new tax into law Thursday afternoon.

"It's bascially a 10 percent tax cut for many small businesses, over 40,000 small businesses," said Todd Anderson, director of government relations for the Small Business Association of Michigan.

"Those companies will invest that money back in their businesses ... which will hopefully mean more jobs in Michigan."

For General Motors, like most manufacturers, the MBT means a large cut in personal property taxes -- the money businesses pay on their equipment.

"I think it's important for GM because it makes the state more competitive on its business tax with other states," GM Government Relations Regional Director Eric Henning said.

The new plan taxes business income and margins -- a company's sales minus it's purchases.

"This business tax gives tax relief to seven out of 10 businesses in Michigan," Granholm said.

But insurance companies will pay more in taxes.

An industry spokeswoman says that means you'll pay more to insure your home and your car.

"Over time, insurance consumers are going to pay for that increase," said Lori Conarton, communications director for the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

By her estimate, the insurance industry faces an extra $30 million in taxes. Insurance companies have paid relatively low taxes under the Single Business Tax.

But Conarton says those low taxes have helped grow the sector.

"Our insurance industry here local employes 6,000 people so it's really contributing to our local economy," she said.

So the companies that insure cars and homes aren't happy to be paying more. What's worse, she says: the insurance industry got cut out of credits other companies can get for creating jobs.

"Insurance companies are one of the most profitable industries in the world," State Rep. Mike Simpson (D-Liberty Twp.) said. "We're just asking them to pay their share."

And for now they will have to pay what the new tax requires, while industry lobbyists try and tweak a tax leaders say should help most businesses.

"You will now start to see very soon job creation as a result of this tax," Simpson said.

A welcome prospect for a state reeling from job losses.

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