Feb 9, 2023 - News

For many Michiganders, $180 inflation checks won't be enough

The Michigan State Capital rotunda

The Michigan Capitol rotunda. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Michiganders struggling to keep up with rising costs say the recent proposal to send taxpayers $180 checks for "inflation relief" won't make more than a small dent in their wallets.

Driving the news: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered more details this week on the Democratic plan to provide immediate relief to working families with relief checks, increased tax credits for low-income workers and cuts to the state's retirement tax.

Details: The checks will be distributed to each income tax filing (couples filing jointly get one check).

  • The proposal calls for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to 30%, up from 6%, as well as phasing out taxes for retirees.
  • Expansion of the EITC — a tax credit for working families — would bring an average refund of $3,000 to 700,000 families, while the retirement tax changes would mean $1,000 for 500,000 households, according to Democratic leadership.

What they're saying: "That's a joke," Steve Tompkins of Grand Rapids told the Free Press from a Meijer parking lot. "I mean, my wife and I have set ourselves up pretty good for retirement. It doesn't affect us that much. But there are a lot of people that are living paycheck to paycheck (and) would rather have $500 to spread out rather than $180."

  • "I mean it's something to start with, but I don't think it necessarily supplements what people actually need," Eastpointe resident Tim Harris told the Free Press from Campus Martius.
  • "We're quintupling what is available, meaning over $3,000 for over 700,000 families across Michigan — that's meaningful relief," Whitmer told reporters Tuesday. "The rebate is on top of that."

Of note: The state's $9 billion surplus will dwindle to around $250 million after the proposals in the new budget proposal, Michigan's budget director said in the governor’s budget presentation yesterday.

What we're watching: Democrats say residents can expect checks in the coming weeks, though it's still unclear whether the money will be taxed by the federal government.


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