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Michigan Business Tax

Mi42. Are farms exempt under the MBT? Are agricultural activities taxed under the MBT? What about a taxpayer that has both retail and farm activities?

Farms are not expressly exempt under the MBT. However, the tax base attributable to the production of agricultural goods by a person whose primary activity is the production of agricultural goods is exempt. MCL 208.1207(1)(d). The production of agricultural goods means "commercial farming, including, but not limited to, cultivation of the soil; growing and harvesting of an agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity; dairying; raising of livestock, bees, fish, fur-bearing animals, or poultry; or turf or tree farming, but does not include the marketing at retail of agricultural goods except for sales of nursery stock grown by the seller and sold to a nursery dealer licensed under section 9 of the insect pest and plant disease act . . . ." MCL 208.1207(1)(d). Thus, so long as the primary activity of the taxpayer is the production of agricultural goods, those agricultural activities will be exempt from the MBT. However, any retail activities that do not constitute the production of agricultural goods will be subject to the MBT.

Other farming-related persons and activities are also exempt from the MBT, such as:

  • Certain farmers' cooperatives formerly exempt from federal income tax under IRC 521, unless "the total dollar value of the farmers' cooperative corporation's incidental and emergency purchases described in subsection (1)(e)(ii) are equal to or greater than 5% of the corporation's total purchases." MCL 208.1207(1)(e), (2).
  • The tax base attributable to the direct and indirect marketing activities of a farmers' cooperative corporation organized within the limits of MCL 450.98 if those marketing activities are provided on behalf of the members of that cooperative and are related to the members' direct sale of their products to third parties or, for livestock, are related to the members' direct or indirect sales of that product to third parties. MCL 208.1207(1)(f).

In addition, farmers' cooperatives that are structured to allocate net earnings in the form of patronage dividends to its farmer or farmers' cooperative patrons exclude the revenue and expenses attributable to business transactions with its farmer of farmer cooperative patrons from its adjusted tax base.