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Industrial property tax abatements provide incentives for eligible businesses to make new investments in Michigan. These abatements encourage Michigan manufacturers to build new plants, expand existing plants, renovate aging plants, or add new machinery and equipment. High technology operations are also eligible for the abatement.
High-technology activity is defined in the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) Act as: advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, engineering or laboratory testing related to product research and development and advanced vehicles technology or technology that assists in the assessment or prevention of threats or damage to human health or the environment. Abatements under PA 198 can significantly reduce property taxes on new investment for eligible firms.
Tax benefits are granted by the legislative body of the city, township or village in which the investment will be located. A public hearing is held and a resolution is adopted to approve the establishment of an Industrial Development District (for a new project) or a Plant Rehabilitation District (for a rehabilitation project). A written request to establish the district must be filed with the clerk of the local unit of government prior to commencement of construction, alteration or installation of equipment.
Once the district is established, the company may apply for an abatement on real and personal property taxes for up to 12 years.
Industrial property tax abatements must be approved at both the local and state levels. The eligible business files an application (Michigan Department of Treasury Form 1012) with the local clerk after the district has been established and no later than six months after commencement of the project. The local unit adopts a resolution approving the application and determines the length of years for the abatement. After a local public hearing, the application is filed and reviewed by the State Tax Commission (STC) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporationsm (MEDC). The STC then grants final approval applications with required attachments must be received by the STC no later than October 31, in order to receive consideration and action by December 31.
Applications to the STC must include an agreement signed by the local unit and the operator of the facility outlining the conditions of the abatement. This shall include an affidavit that no payment of any kind in excess of the fee allowed under the act has been made or promised in exchange for favorable consideration of exemption application.
Once approved, the firm pays an Industrial Facilities Tax (IFT), instead of property tax, which reflects the abatement savings.
Industrial plants eligible for tax abatement are those that primarily manufacture or process goods or materials by physical or chemical change. Related facilities of Michigan manufacturers such as offices, engineering, research and development, warehousing or parts distribution are also eligible for exemption. Research and development laboratories, high-tech facilities and large communication centers can qualify throughout Michigan.
Facilities used for warehousing, distribution or logistics purposes can be eligible if they locate in specific border counties. At least 90 percent of the property, excluding the surrounding green space, must be used for a warehouse, distribution, logistics or communication center and occupy a building or structure that is more than 100,000 square feet. Eligible border counties include Berrien, Branch, Cass, Chippewa, Dickinson, Gogebic, Hillsdale, Iron, Lenawee, Menominee, Monroe, St. Clair, St. Joseph, and Wayne.
The exemption applies to buildings, building improvements, machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures. Real and personal property are eligible whether owned or leased (provided the lessee is liable for payment of taxes on the property). The exemption covers only the specific project that is the subject of the application. Any buildings and equipment that existed prior to construction of a new facility are not exempt. If the project is rehabilitation, the value of any pre-existing obsolete property is exempt from ad valorem property taxes, but will be used as the base for IFT. Similarly, any structures or equipment added after completion of the project are fully taxable
Real and Non-industrial Personal Property IFT Treatment
The IFT on a new plant and non-industrial personal property, such as some high-tech personal property, is computed at half the local property tax mileage rate. This amounts to a reduction in property taxes of approximately 50 percent. In addition, the 6-mill SET may be abated 100 percent, 50 percent or not at all. Any SET abatement must be negotiated with the MEDC.
Rehabilitation of Real or Personal Property IFT Treatment
For an obsolete plant or machinery that is being replaced or restored, the IFT is frozen at the assessed value of the plant prior to improvement. This results in a 100 percent exemption from property tax on the value of the improvements.
Speculative Building IFT Treatment
In order for a speculative building to qualify for abatement, the local unit must approve a resolution declaring it is a speculative building prior to identifying occupants. Initial construction and finishing costs would be eligible for a reduction in property taxes of approximately 50 percent.
Commercial Personal Property Tax Relief
Commercial personal property will receive an automatic reduction of 12 mills for local school on their property tax bill.
Extension Under Personal Property Tax Reform
Personal property abated under PA 198 and eligible in the future for the Personal Property Tax (PPT) exemption will automatically continue to be abated under PA 198 until that property may be claimed as exempt from the PPT in the current tax year. Businesses with IFT until the property becomes eligible for the PPT exemption.