A new tax incentive program targeting large job providers passed the Michigan legislature last week with bi-partisan support, and is expected to be signed soon by Governor Rick Snyder, who strongly supported the legislation. The “Good Jobs for Michigan” program will bolster Michigan’s economic development toolkit, allowing it to better compete with other states for major business relocation and expansion projects. Several business groups including Business Leaders for Michigan pushed the measure, which combined with Michigan’s prior tax reforms, adoption of Right to Work legislation and regulatory reinvention, will elevate the State in the eyes of site selectors and companies considering new facilities or expansions.

The Good Jobs for Michigan package (Senate Bills 242-244) provides that companies that create hundreds of high-paying jobs, whether through expansion or opening of new facilities, can retain up to 100 percent of the withholding taxes payable with respect to the new employees, for up to 10 years. Specifically:

  • An employer that creates at least 250 jobs that pay at least 125 percent of the average wage for the applicable region in Michigan is eligible to receive up to 100% of withholding taxes attributable to those employees, for up to 10 years.
  • An employer that creates at least 500 jobs paying at least the average wage for that region is eligible to receive up to 50% of the withholding taxes attributable to those employees, for up to five years.
  • An employer that creates at least 3,000 jobs would be eligible to receive 100% of the withholding taxes attributable to those employees for up to 10 years.
  • The state can approve up to 15 projects per year (any “unused projects” carry over to the next year), but cannot commit more than $200 million in withholding tax capture revenues at any one time.

The Good Jobs for Michigan legislation was spurred by a sense among many in the Michigan business community and state government that Michigan was lagging behind other states in terms of incentives that could be used to attract and retain businesses. Principally Southern and Southeastern states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, have been providing richer incentives to companies who were seeking to relocate or build new facilities. Michigan’s cash incentive program has been effective but is limited to a $10 million per project, and has been focused on small and medium-sized projects.

In addition to the parameters set forth above, one of the keys to getting the program passed through the legislature was including a December 31, 2019 sunset for the program. This provision and the overall program cap provide fiscal discipline for the program, and was included in part to address concerns over large and variable liabilities incurred from previous tax credit programs such as the MEGA program. In addition, disbursements of captured withholding taxes will only be made in years where the state has verified that the eligible company has achieved the relevant job targets.