Lawmakers take another stab at delaying summer property tax filings

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan House on Wednesday approved a bill that would delay tax payments amid elevated unemployment numbers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The bill, which passed largely along party lines, 57-47, is very similar to legislation vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month, but excludes language that Whitmer said was "unconstitutional."

The original legislation won bipartisan approval. 

Multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.

Whitmer had earlier deferred the income tax filing deadline for Michigan residents to July 15 from April 15, but stopped short of allowing the same for summer 2020, which would have been moved to May 2021. 

She vetoed the bill that would have allowed for the delay on July 8, noting it "would jeopardize the availability of credit to local units of government" and held "fatal constitutional flaws" because it required the state to advance counties money while they awaited summer tax payments. The requirement would violate the Michigan Constitution, which prohibits the state from becoming the guarantor for county liabilities, she wrote.

Summer tax payments from state and local property taxes generate about $10 billion annually, according to an analysis from the House Fiscal Agency. 

Lawmakers, critical of the veto, took another stab at the proposal Wednesday. 

The bill passed by the House on Wednesday would allow people to delay filing their summer 2020 property taxes without interest accruing until May 3, 2021 if an individual met several requirements.

Those eligible had to have experienced economic hardship because of the pandemic or flooding in the Midland area and filed an affidavit attesting to that hardship by Aug. 28. The bill also would exclude those party to an escrow agreement or someone who had already deferred summer 2020 taxes for some other reason. 

The section requiring the treasury to advance money to counties that will receive delayed tax revenue was eliminated from the bill, eliminating at least one impediment voiced in Whitmer's July 8 veto.