GRAND RAPIDS – State Representatives Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) today announced the Tax-O-Meter, a virtual display of by-the-second tax shifts in Michigan. These tax shifts are taking away money from the average citizen and giving it to wealthy CEOs and corporations. The legislative majority has increased Michigan’s middle-class families’ tax burden by $4,320,822 a day — or $50 every second, according to the May 2013 Michigan Department of Treasury Consensus Estimate. Because of this, the House Democrats are focused on restoring tax credits and deductions to middle-class families and repealing taxes on retirees.

“Shifting the tax burden onto middle-class families and seniors has been a disaster,” Dillon said. “These tax increases on seniors are making it harder to make ends meet. Families that had depended on the Homestead Property Tax Credit and $600 per-child deduction have less money in their pocket to buy groceries or gasoline. This giveaway to corporations has to end.”

Last session, the Republican-led Legislature made severe changes to the Michigan tax code that took away many tax credits and deductions middle-class families and seniors relied on, including imposing a tax on retirement income, eliminating the Homestead Property Tax Credit for many families, drastically cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit and eliminating the $600 per-child tax deduction and tax credits for charitable donations. These changes were made to fund nearly $2 billion in tax breaks for big corporations, effectively making Michigan’s low-income and middle-class families pay for a handout to big corporations. The new taxes took effect in 2012, and many taxpayers became aware of them for the first time as they filed their state income taxes this year.

“For the first time this year, many families who used to get a tax refund from the state found they owed hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in taxes,” Brinks said. “This is money people used to spend buying appliances, fixing their cars, shopping for groceries or saving for college. Families can’t cope with these high taxes.”

Earlier this year, Democratic state representatives heard the concerns of struggling Michiganders during their Real State of Our State Listening Tour. After the tour’s completion, legislators used this feedback to introduce bills, including the following:

• Repeal the new tax on senior retirement income
• Require employers to inform employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit
• Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to 11 percent in the first year
• Restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit
• Restore the child deduction

Along with these initiatives, the House Democrats pledge to continue fighting against tax increases on the middle class and seniors every time a new, harmful tax is introduced to the Legislature, and to keep Michigan taxpayers aware of the changes through a series of town halls held across the state.

“Whenever I talk to people in my district, they tell me they can’t afford the new taxes Republicans created,” Lamonte said. “Middle-class family budgets are stretched too thin and we need relief. That’s why House Democrats are inviting families around the state to join with us in calling on Republicans to take action and undo these punitive taxes.”