The head of the Small Business Association of Michigan says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state legislators can agree on a bill that would allow businesses to defer property tax payments.
Whitmer vetoed legislation that lawmakers passed this summer with broad bipartisan support allowing deferrals of summer property tax bills. The move would have provided some relief to businesses hit by the pandemic and state-ordered closings in the spring.
Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases this fall and the partial closing for dine-in service at bars and restaurants and capacity limits for retailers, a Senate bill similar to what the governor vetoed “seems to be getting some steam” in Lansing, said SBAM President Brian Calley.
The Senate and the state House could act on the bill next week, he added.
The bill would need agreement from the governor to become law. Based on conversations he’s had, the Whitmer administration is “at least open” to taking another look at the same concept vetoed in the summer.
“The idea of a deferment of property tax bills without penalty or interest — especially for those businesses that have to be closed or are severely restricted — is only fair. It only makes sense,” Calley said Thursday in an SBAM briefing.
Given the prior and previous pandemic restrictions, SBAM CEO Rob Fowler said that not deferring property tax payments is “insult to injury to have your government tell you, ‘You can’t be open, but here’s your property tax bill.’”
“Property taxes on businesses that are closed are still property taxes,” Fowler said.
The state this week did offer some relief for small businesses by offering a one month extension on paying monthly sales, use and withholding taxes.
The Michigan Department of Treasury said businesses can postpone filing and paying the tax payments — due Dec. 20 — until Jan. 20.
In a Dec. 8 notice, the Treasury Department said it was “automatically waiving penalty and interest for the late reporting or late payment of sales, use, and withholding tax for any non-accelerated return or payment due on December 20, 2020.”
The waiver is an attempt to “alleviate some of the present challenges faced by those businesses” affected by the present restrictions, including “entertainment venues, recreational facilities and places of public amusement, and food service establishments with indoor dining,” according to the Treasury Department notice.
“It’s an attempt to help somewhat with cash flow,” said Calley, who looks at the move as “maybe a little clue” that the governor may not extend the present restrictions beyond their Dec. 20 expiration.
“If they were going to keep things closed down for another two or three weeks, well, then sales and use tax (payments) and withholdings extended one month wasn’t going to make a lot of sense,” Calley said. “Maybe there’s a clue there, maybe not, that we’re getting close to the end of that.”
News coverage in the small business section of MiBiz is made possible by advertising support from the Small Business Association of Michigan. SBAM is the statewide and state-based association that focuses solely on serving the needs of Michigan’s small business community. This advertisement has no effect on editorial consideration in MiBiz.