Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Follow Up on Privacy of Michigan Film Incentive Tax Revenue

The other day we questioned the notion that a tax information derived from a governmental policy is subject to privacy laws, especially in the case of a corporate interest benefiting from public policy, or more directly, taxpayer dollars.
We followed up with a call to Michael Shore, a spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. He was admirably quick with a response, which he left on our voice mail, referring to a section of the Michigan Revenue Act.
Under 205.28 (1) (f) “Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, an employee, authorized representative, or former employee or authorized representative of the department or anyone connected with the department shall not divulge any facts or information obtained in connection with the administration of a tax or information or parameters that would enable a person to ascertain the audit selection or processing criteria of the department for a tax administered by the department. An employee or authorized representative shall not willfully inspect any return or information contained in a return unless it is appropriate for the proper administration of a tax law administered under this act…”
State law in this case would trump our open records notions, we think, but there may be some room in here for interpretation. This has nothing to do with criticizing the idea of these film incentives - the plan keeps generating activity and is saving a lot of money for some people. What we demand is some openness about the whole thing. We are seeking specific details about spending of money by those receiving these breaks and the amount of tax dollars returned to each production. And we will keep pushing.

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