COLUMN: Local income tax unfair to student workers
I’m not usually one to complain about taxes. I enjoy having paved roads, a police force and a public education system.
People who complain about paying taxes have always seemed to me like the people most able to afford paying taxes; the kind of people who complain every time their fifth vacation home’s property tax increases by 0.05 percent.
I guess I’ve crossed over to the dark side, though, because I’m going to complain a little bit about the city Mount Pleasant’s proposed income tax.
According to the City of Mt. Pleasant, the income tax would be collected from all people who earn taxable income from a job in the city. Residents of Mount Pleasant would pay 1 percent of their federally adjusted income in local taxes, while non-residents would pay 0.5 percent. The city cites a “structural gap between revenues and expenditures in the general fund budget,” and this tax would be an alternative to a millage rate increase.
One percent or 0.5 percent of one’s income does not sound like a huge number, but it’s not the percentage itself that I’m upset about.
I’m a little miffed because this income tax seeks to squeeze income out of the student population. Instead of increasing property taxes on people who have chosen Mount Pleasant as their legal city of residence, this tax takes money away from student workers who are slaving away at minimum jobs to live in crappy apartments while paying sky high tuition rates.
For a student on a “ramen-noodle-on-days-ending-with-a-y” budget, 1 percent extra from every paycheck could mean a few nights eating invisible cuisine. Before you say, “They should just use their Bridge Cards,” keep in mind that a student needs to work 20 hours a week, or make at least $145 per week, before qualifying for that type of assistance.
Not many students can successfully balance a full course load (at least 12 credit hours) with 20 hours of work per week, so Bridge Card assistance would only help those who can manage that herculean feat. The rest of us will have to learn to live with less each week, while we wait around for our W-2s to recoup our yearly losses.
I know property taxes are already a burden for some families in the area, and a millage would increase that burden. However, when one buys a house in a city, one has to expect to pay property taxes to that city.
As students, we are just passing through Mount Pleasant via Central Michigan University, and we shouldn’t have to contribute any additional money to the local government. We already keep this city’s economy afloat (think of how dead this place is during the summer), and we shouldn’t have to pay income taxes to a city that is not our legal place of residence.
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