It’s not hard to understand why the tax bill will come in below $8 billion.
But a new study shows Michigan’s tax bill could be as high as $9.7 billion if it includes a huge, tax-free windfall from a tax credit for homeowners.
The study by the state comptroller and state budget analyst, Steven Schauf, also found that $9 billion in tax breaks that would otherwise have been taxed at the lower rate could be taxed at a much higher rate if lawmakers allow those credits to expire.
And a new analysis by Schauff says the windfall could be even bigger if the credit is extended for the next 10 years.
Rick Snyder, who is also running for reelection, has said the tax credit will expire for the 2018 tax year.
The comptroller’s analysis also shows the tax-credit money could be spent on other programs.
The $9,000 rebate, which Schaufs study called a “special benefit,” could be used to buy a home for $400,000 or $450,000.
It would also help homeowners with down payments.
Schau Fon, a tax economist and professor at the University of Michigan, said the study doesn’t provide a clear answer as to how much of the tax money would go toward helping the state’s poor.
He said that as a rule, the money is spent for education and other priorities.
“This is not a money-spending program,” he said.
Schaus said he was surprised the Legislature would extend the tax credits.
He noted that it’s the first time since 2005 that Michigan has paid back $9 million to its credit recipients.
He added that Michigan is already on track to meet the federal deficit targets set by Congress.
Schooft said the state has to balance the budget before extending the tax break.
“We can’t continue to spend all this money on our education system, which is already in crisis, or on other things like social services,” he told MLive.
Schaunf said Michigan has been spending $4.4 billion on education each year for the past two years.
“The state is currently spending more on education than we’re getting from the federal government,” he added.
Schunft noted that Michigan’s budget is a budget surplus.
“That means that we’ve got some money left to spend,” he explained.
Schonff said that if the credits expire, the state could be able to use the money to pay for a new state tax on high-income earners, but that it would take some legislative action to do so.
Schoos office told MLIVE that the comptroller also released a report last year that looked at the economic impact of the windfalls and the state budget.
“There are some interesting things we see with regard to the credit,” Schauft said.
The report showed the tax savings could come from two main sources.
First, the credit would likely create up to $1.6 billion in new income taxes and royalties.
And second, the credits could help pay for programs like a $1 billion expansion of public schools and a $700 million increase in school funding.
But the report also pointed out that some of the new taxes could be offset by a reduction in other state taxes.
The credit, Schaufer said, could generate revenue from an increase in the sales tax and the sales taxes on gas and electric vehicles.
The state also could have some money available from the credits to pay back loans from the state and local governments.
Schoff said the comptrollers report did not include a cost breakdown.
“I’m just really not sure how we’re going to quantify it,” Schaunff said.
“How much money is going to go to our teachers?”
The comptroller’s office told the Detroit Free Press that the study did not attempt to estimate the impact of closing the tax breaks.
The Michigan State Treasury said the Michigan Comptroller’s Office is reviewing the study.