Do work in Detroit, office elsewhere, you could still owe taxes - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Do work in Detroit, office elsewhere, you could still owe taxes

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By Alexis Wiley
Fox 2 News


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- Detroit is launching a tax amnesty program encouraging individuals and companies that owe the city income taxes a chance to pay up without incurring additional fines.

It sounds great, but there is one piece of this program that's raising more than a few eyebrows because the city is not just going after its residents.  They're targeting anyone who does business in the city, even if their company is based somewhere else.

For example, the driver who spends his day making deliveries in Detroit will have to pay up.  The lawyer whose office is in Sterling Heights but tries cases in Detroit will also have to pay up.  And reporters who spend time in the city covering stories like this one will also have to pay the piper.

So what does the mayor have to say about all of this?  He wasn't willing to talk, but his finance director was.

"Actually, we should've been enforcing it all along," said Cheryl Johnson.

The non-resident tax is 1.2 percent and only applies to those who made more than $600 working in Detroit.

"If you spend approximately 75 percent of your time in Detroit and you live outside of the city, you would be required to pay tax of 75 percent of your earnings," Johnson explained.

Collecting those tax dollars is estimated to raise $4 million for the cash-strapped city, but is Detroit cutting off its nose despite its face?

"People say now wait a minute, if I go to work in Detroit I have to pay a tax.  I'll take my business somewhere else or I will sort of avoid Detroit.  That's what Detroit doesn't need right now," said Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton.

"This has been on the books since the sixties, and we are enforcing it now and doing everything that we can to help bring more money into the city.  As you know, we're in a cash crisis.  If things that are on the books that we can actually do, we are going to aggressively do them," Johnson said.

The city's tax amnesty program will run from January 22 through February 16.

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