Source: Sherman Publications

My Way
The end of an evil tax Ė almost

by CJ Carnacchio

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.

Thatís why I was pleased to see the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder put an end to the most evil of taxes Ė 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. Iíve 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? Thatís basically what the personal property tax is.

A restaurant canít cook food without kitchen appliances, so they get taxed. A newspaper canít publish without computers and a printing press, so those things are taxed. A factory canít 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 Ė like your refrigerator, clothes, computer and vacuum cleaner Ė and their respective ages, so an assessor can assign a value to each one.

How many folks would think thatís fair? Somehow I doubt thereís anybody out there nodding their head in approval. Fortunately, Michigan doesnít do that Ė at least not anymore. Items for household use have been exempt from personal property taxes since the 1930s.

Well, if itís not fair or legal to assess personal property taxes on households, it shouldnít be fair or legal to levy them against businesses. Businesses arenít the enemy nor are they cash cows to be milked dry for tax revenue. Theyíre an integral part of our society.

The personal property tax is wrong and when something is wrong, you donít do it. Even a kid knows that.

That being said, Iím disappointed our state leaders, in the spirit of compromise, didnít eliminate the personal property tax for all businesses. The new laws make no provision to exempt Ė not now or in the future Ė 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. Hereís hoping for a change.

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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 Fabergeís 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, thereís a definite air of sadness when you consider the brutal history. I highly recommend seeing it.