Prisoner Tax Issue Introduced

Michigan prisoners will have to start paying sales tax on purchased items under legislation overwhelmingly approved this week by the Michigan House, state Rep. Ed McBroom announced. McBroom say in 2011, the prisoner sales tax exemption totaled more than $500,000 in uncollected state revenue.

“Prison inmates are behind bars because they committed crimes against the people of Michigan, they shouldn’t be given special treatment when it comes to the state sales tax,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “Our state government should look for additional revenue where we can for taxpayer relief, but in this case the amount of money isn’t as much the issue as the principle of it. Inmates are paying their debt to society for their crimes. That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to escape from their tax responsibilities, as well.”

Nonprofit groups and felons serving time in state prisons are the only groups exempt from paying the state sales tax. Inmates have not paid a sales tax, currently at 6 percent, since 1971.

“There are families in Michigan who struggle to make ends meet and they have to pay the state sales tax, while prison inmates get this special treatment,” McBroom said. “That just isn’t right.”

House Bill 4658 now goes to the Senate for consideration.