Rep. Wittenberg: Tax Equality Should be Addressed at the State Level

Thursday, July 9, 2015

LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) doubled-down on his support of Rep. Jim Townsend’s (D-Royal Oak) plan to bring tax equality to Michigan today.

Wittenberg, along with 35 other House Democrats, is a co-sponsor of Townsend’s House Bill 4341 and House Joint Resolution K, which would create a graduated income tax that cuts taxes for 95 percent of Michiganders.

Due to the current climate in Lansing, there is a growing movement to put this issue to voters in 2016.

“A ballot proposal to establish this graduated income tax would create equal taxation for all, prevent the Legislature from raising our income tax in the future, and define the 2016 election,” said Wittenberg. “There is no reason a police officer, school teacher or a small business owner making $50,000 a year should contribute nearly twice as much of their income as a someone making $40 million a year, but that is how our tax system works, for now.”

Under Michigan’s current system, when you add all our taxes up, the bottom 80 percent of families, those making $88,000 a year or less, contribute 9.2 to 9.5 percent of their income, while the wealthiest 1 percent contribute only 5.9 percent.

“I’ve been meeting with community leaders and speaking with residents about this everywhere I go, and the consensus is that our current system is inherently unfair and imbalanced,” said Wittenberg. “I’m excited to be working with Rep. Townsend to bring tax equality to Michigan.”

Townsend’s plan would cut taxes for single filers with less than $80,000 and joint filers with less than $160,000 in taxable income. Under the plan, a family of four making less than $176,000 would receive a tax cut that would reach as high as $600 a year for middle-income families. According to the Department of Treasury, more than 4.4 million filers, 95 percent, would receive an $830 million tax cut and 89 percent of business owners would receive a tax cut.

Townsend’s plan would also raise up to $760 million in new revenue to invest in education, roads and communities.

“This plan would make a real difference in the lives of Michigan families who have been getting hit from every angle – declining income, reduced benefits, rising costs and disproportionately higher taxes,” said Wittenberg. “I came to Lansing to tackle tough issues and deliver results for Michigan families. I can’t think of a plan that would have a bigger, more tangible impact.”

Thirty-three other states and the federal government have a graduated income tax, including Minnesota, which raised its top income tax rate in 2013 and saw an increase of residents earning more than $1 million per year. Additionally, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 3.6 percent, compared to Michigan’s 5.4 percent, and its median household earns $9,000 a year more than Michigan’s.

“All the data I’ve seen shows this type of initiative would be good for our struggling families and economy,” said Wittenberg.

“I’m very glad to have Rep. Wittenberg’s support for my plan to create equal taxation,” said Townsend. “We need lawmakers who are willing to lead on tough issues and advocate for policies that deliver real results for Michigan families. It’s time to fix this broken system that shelters the top 5 percent at everyone else’s expense. It’s time for tax equality.”