Mitchell: Keep Michigan taxes simple

Paul Mitchell

Recently, State Rep. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak, proposed policy that would hinder people in our state from achieving economic opportunity and would create disincentives to business and job growth.

Townsend, and other Democrats, proposed a progressive income tax to replace the 4.25 percent flat income tax describing the proposal as “tax fairness.”

My mom regularly said fairness depends upon your perspective, and in this case, from almost any perspective, this proposal is neither “fair” or good for Michigan’s economy.

Under Townsend’s proposal the percentage of income paid to the state would increase as income increased, punishing those who were higher wage earners, business owners, farmers and entrepreneurs. A progressive income tax is a disincentive for Michigan small business owners and innovators to grow their companies, create new jobs and increase their workers’ wages. Instead, it would punish success and would certainly stifle Michigan’s economic growth.

America’s greatness relies on the ability for all to have the opportunity to achieve. As the son of a GM line worker who had six brothers and sisters, I understand what it’s like to live in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck. We were thankful for what we had but also understood that only through focus and hard work could we make our future families more secure. The possibility to advance up the economic ladder through hard work and making the most of opportunity is one of the things that makes America exceptional. Our state’s and nation’s economic and tax policy must encourage success, achievement and prosperity for those who are willing to risk and work for it.

Social engineering through the tax code has been rejected overwhelmingly by Michigan voters. We see what this type of policy has created in Washington — a tax system that is so complex it can be understood only by tax attorneys and accountants. Those with the best connections and lobbyists get their special deals and carve outs. And, the end result is an ever intrusive IRS that is empowered to target certain citizens and groups who dare to stand against them.

We cannot stand idly by and allow this in our state tax system.

Right now, Michigan’s income tax at a flat rate is simple and fair for all taxpayers in Michigan. Those with greater income currently pay more in state income taxes and, in most cases, pay more in state sales taxes also.

Just like we worked together to stop Proposal 1, a $2 billion special interest deal and the largest tax increase in 50 years, from passing statewide by historic proportions, we must work to stop the progressive income tax which allows the government to pick winners and losers through tax policy.

What supporters of the progressive income tax call “tax fairness” is actually just the government penalizing success and creating even greater incentives for individuals and small business owners to move to other states.

Paul Mitchell is president of the Faith & Freedom Coalition of Michigan.