Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg’s tax relief bills gets unanimous support

The legislation I introduced to help hardworking Michigan taxpayers keep more of the money they earn passed with unanimous support in the Senate. Senate Bills 748-750 protect the personal exemption on state and local income taxes and deliver additional tax relief to American families.

While recent federal tax reform lowers tax rates and doubles the standard deduction, it also effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, Michigan taxpayers would be unable to claim personal exemptions on their state income taxes. The bills make the necessary changes to not only keep the personal exemption intact, but also to increase the exemption as well. In 2018, the exemption would be $4,500. My plan would increase it by $100 each year through 2020 and then up to $5,000 in 2021.

In addition, the legislation helps families who provide necessary care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members by creating a new dependent care tax credit.

The bills have been sent to the House for further consideration.

 

 Brandenburg backs override to speed up sales tax relief

The Legislature recently voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation to accelerate “sales tax on the difference” reform when consumers purchase a vehicle. The legislation has now been assigned Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2018 with immediate effect.

The move speeds up the phase-in of sales tax relief when consumers trade in their car to buy a new one. The legislation increases the cap on the trade-in value to $4,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2018 and to $5,000 by Jan. 1, 2019. The cap increases by $1,000 each year until fully implemented in 2028.

Michigan was one of only six states — and the only Great Lakes state — that taxed the value of trade-ins. I am pleased the new laws will help consumers save money when they buy a car.

 

Free Fishing weekend

Anglers, check out Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend! This great event falls on Feb. 17 and 18 this year. All fishing license fees are waived for residents and out-of-state visitors on both inland and Great Lakes waters for the two days. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for information on special events and activities. A Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Recreation Passport will not be required at any state park or recreation area during the free fishing weekend.

 

Save money: Buy your Recreation Passport when renewing car registration

A Recreation Passport provides easy access to more than 100 state parks and recreation areas in Michigan’s great outdoors.

Starting this year, the DNR is adding a $5 fee when buying the passport at state parks. Motorists can save money by buying the Recreation Passport online at www.expressSOS.com, by mail or at a branch office when they renew their car registration through the secretary of state. When motorists purchase a Recreation Passport while renewing their vehicle registration, it also allows them to access Passport Perks, a statewide shopping discount program. Visit www.michigan.org/dnr-perks to locate discounts by city and category.

 

Brandenburg’s Michigan tax relief bill passes Senate unanimously

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Jack Brandenburg that would restore the Michigan personal tax exemption lost in the recent federal tax reform.

Without Senate Bill 748, Michigan families face a tax hike of nearly $1.5 billion.

Sen. Brandenburg’s legislation maintains the state’s personal exemption and also increases the exemption amount by $700 to $5,000 by 2021, while remaining tied to inflation. Currently, the state personal tax exemption is scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

“This would be about a $210 million cut to a colossal state budget that’s over $55 billion,” said Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township. “We really haven’t had any meaningful state tax relief for average, working-class people in 20 years. This is great progress and it’s been long overdue.”

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, SB 748 will result in a $210 million tax cut, or just 0.38 percent of the total budget.

“I’m proud that this legislation received unanimous bipartisan support,” Brandenburg added. “It’s a common-sense fix for a serious problem, and it puts money back into the pockets of hardworking Michigan families.”

Michigan’s current state income tax law ties Michigan personal exemptions to the federal number of exemptions. Without a revision to the law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim the personal exemptions on their state taxes.

SB 748 will now go to the Michigan House for consideration. Brandenburg urged his colleagues in the House to pass the bill quickly so Michigan families can file confidently and with the knowledge that they are keeping even more of their hard earned money.

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Sen. Brandenburg announces tax relief for Michigan families

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, introduced legislation on Thursday that would restore the Michigan personal tax exemption that was lost in the recent federal tax reform.

Without Senate Bill 748, Michigan families would be hit with a tax hike of nearly $1.5 billion.

“It’s been my main priority in Lansing to fight for tax relief for Michigan families,” Brandenburg said. “President Trump went big and bold in his tax relief for American families and it is time we do the same for families here in Michigan.

“My plan to increase the personal exemption to $4,800 will provide meaningful relief to taxpayers in our state, while being responsible with our state tax dollars.”

Sen. Brandenburg’s legislation makes necessary changes to maintain the state’s personal exemption and provides an increase in the state personal exemption by $500 to $4,800 by 2021, while remaining tied to inflation. Currently, the state personal tax exemption is scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

“The governor’s plan to increase the personal exemption to $4,500 was a good start, but I believe we need to go further in a responsible way to provide real tax relief for Michigan families,” Brandenburg said. “That’s why my plan would more than double the savings a family of four would realize in their tax returns from the personal exemption compared to the $4,500 proposal offered by the Governor.”

The federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act, in addition to lowering income tax rates, included a streamlined exemption process that eliminated the $4,050 personal exemption at the federal level, setting it to zero.

Michigan’s current state income tax law ties Michigan personal exemptions to the federal number of exemptions. Without a revision to the law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim the personal exemptions on their state taxes. This would cost state taxpayers around $1.5 billion a year.

“The federal tax reform package was a big win for our country,” Brandenburg said. “Now I’m leading the reforms here in Michigan to adjust for the new law and to make sure Michigan families have tax relief on all levels. My plan is to take quick action so that Michigan taxpayers don’t face any tax hikes.”

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on SB 748 on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

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Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg backs Michigan first-time home buyer savings program

To ensure Michigan is an attractive place to work and live, it’s important that housing is affordable for the next generation of homebuyers.

I recently supported legislation that would help residents save enough money to buy their first house. Senate Bill 511 creates a first-time homebuyer savings plan. Funds in the account could be used toward a down payment or allowable closing costs. Senate Bill 512 provides an income tax deduction of up to $5,000 for a single return and $10,000 for a joint return for contributions and interest earned.

The legislation provides a great incentive to encourage young people and new families to stay and settle in our state. The bills have been sent to the House for consideration.

 

Sen. Brandenburg supports new laws to improve unemployment benefits system

The Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan package of bills — now signed into law — to reform and improve Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The reforms help fix problems created by the automated fraud system in which more than 37,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud and lost their benefits from 2013 to 2015. The agency has required human review in making a fraud determination since August 2015. Under the new laws, claimants accused of fraud will also have access to an advocacy program for better representation.

The changes also create a new process to handle potential identity theft claims, an ever-increasing problem. Among other provisions, this measure allows benefits to stop when the agency receives an affidavit from a person with a stolen identity and establishes a position similar to an “inspector general” to investigate fraud and make recommendations to improve integrity and accountability within the program.

Public Acts 225-232 of 2017 received the support of business and labor groups, as well as the state unemployment agency.

 

Many forest roads in northern Lower Peninsula open to ORV use

More than 6,300 miles of roads in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula state forest system are now open to off-road vehicles, while about 1,200 miles of road remain closed. The plan balances motorized recreational access with resource protection and safety. Signs will be installed on roads closed to ORV use as soon as possible, depending on ground conditions. Riders should check DNR maps at www.michigan.gov/forestroads to make sure roads are authorized for ORV use.

Roads in the state forest system in the Upper Peninsula are also open to ORV riders; those in the southern Lower Peninsula will open Jan. 1, 2019.

 

Stay winter ready

Winter weather can be challenging in Michigan! If the power goes out, water and gas may not be available. A fully stocked preparedness kit can be helpful during an emergency or disaster. According to the Michigan State Police, a household kit should contain — at a minimum — food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, clothing and a blanket.

Find a recommended checklist of emergency kit items, a pet preparedness kit checklist and many other resources at www.michigan.gov/miready.