Michigan is a state with a lower tax burden than it had a decade ago.

That's what MLIVE political writer Peter Luke claimed in a story last week.

Luke based his analysis on the percentage of total personal income paid in taxes and fees.

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But James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, argues that Luke wasn't using all the data available to explain the state's true tax burden.

Basing his calculations on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau, Hohman used three other indicators that show a different picture about the state's tax burden.

Luke asserts that the percentage of total personal income paid in taxes and fees went down between 2000 and what is estimated will be taken in for fiscal 2010. Hohman largely confirms this, noting that the federal data he is using shows a drop from 10.8 percent in 2000 to 10.7 percent in 2007 - the latest year the federal data is available.

But that's not the whole story.

Hohman points out that per capita taxes paid went from $3,162 in 2000 to $3,691 in 2007. Taxes paid per job went from $6,730 in 2000 to $8,691 in 2007.

And percentage of state Gross Domestic Product in taxes went from 9.3 percent in 2000 to 10.0 percent in 2008.

Hohman said the three other indicators show that the state tax burden has increased.

"Michigan doesn't have one tax burden ranking," Hohman said. "It has many."


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Ted Nelson is a retired Michigan State Police officer who trained police departments throughout the state on civil asset forfeiture. He believes the practice has been misused and needs to change.

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