January 09, 2013 - In a civilized society, taxes are a necessary evil.
Now, I tend to believe taxes are more evil than necessary and some are more evil than others.
That's why I was pleased to see the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder put an end to the most evil of taxes – the personal property tax. Hopefully, state voters will agree and basically ratify their decision on the August 2014 ballot.
These are taxes businesses pay year in and year out for the equipment, tools, furniture and computers they own and use on a daily basis. I've never understood or agreed with this heinous tax.
When a business purchases a desk or a computer or a new piece of industrial machinery, it renders unto Caesar what is allegedly his when it pays the sales tax on the item.
Why should businesses be forced to continue paying government year after year after year for the privilege of owning and using the very things they need to operate? That's basically what the personal property tax is.
A restaurant can't cook food without kitchen appliances, so they get taxed. A newspaper can't publish without computers and a printing press, so those things are taxed. A factory can't manufacture things without machinery, so the equipment gets taxed.
Imagine if every single year, the village or township levied taxes on the television you watch, the dishes you eat off of and the bed you sleep in. Imagine having to annually provide the government with a list of personal items – like your refrigerator, clothes, computer and vacuum cleaner – and their respective ages, so an assessor can assign a value to each one.
How many folks would think that's fair? Somehow I doubt there's anybody out there nodding their head in approval. Fortunately, Michigan doesn't do that – at least not anymore. Items for household use have been exempt from personal property taxes since the 1930s.
Well, if it's not fair or legal to assess personal property taxes on households, it shouldn't be fair or legal to levy them against businesses. Businesses aren't the enemy nor are they cash cows to be milked dry for tax revenue. They're an integral part of our society.
The personal property tax is wrong and when something is wrong, you don't do it. Even a kid knows that.
That being said, I'm disappointed our state leaders, in the spirit of compromise, didn't eliminate the personal property tax for all businesses. The new laws make no provision to exempt – not now or in the future – a business that conducts no manufacturing work, but has commercial personal property valued at over $40,000.
That needs to be fixed. The personal property tax should be completely abolished for all businesses, regardless of type or size. What the legislature calls a compromise, I call discrimination. Here's hoping for a change.
On personal note, I would just like to say how much my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the Faberge Exhibit on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) until Jan. 21.
The craftsmanship was simply exquisite, the history was fascinating and the fine folks at the DIA could not have been more accommodating or gracious.
The exhibit is so much more than just Faberge's legendary ornate eggs. It includes chess sets, cigarette cases, vases, spoons, handles for canes and parasols, ashtrays, bowls, jewelry, religious icons and furniture.
It really shows you the genius and talent of master jeweler Peter Carl Faberge. It also provides an intimate portrait of the lavish lifestyle the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family led prior to the two revolutions in 1917 that ended their reign and their lives. Although the exhibit is quite beautiful, there's a definite air of sadness when you consider the brutal history. I highly recommend seeing it.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.