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Unitary Business Groups 8. What is a unitary business group?

Generally, a unitary business group is a group of related persons whose business activities or operations are interdependent. More specifically, a unitary business group is two or more persons that satisfy both a control test and one of two relationship tests. MCL 206.611(6). A unitary business group is a single taxpayer under the CIT and must file a combined return. MCL 206.611(5), 206.691. Foreign persons, other than certain disregarded entities, and foreign operating entities cannot be part of a unitary business group.

Control Test. The control test is satisfied when one person owns or controls, directly or indirectly, more than 50% of the ownership interest with voting or comparable rights of the other person or persons.

Relationship Tests. In addition to satisfying the control test, the group of persons must have business activities or operations that (1) result in a flow of value between or among persons in the group, or (2) are integrated with, are dependent upon, or contribute to each other.

Flow of value is established when members of the group demonstrate one or more of functional integration, centralized management, and economies of scale. Examples of functional integration include common programs or systems and shared information or property. Examples of centralized management include common management or directors, shared staff functions, and business decisions made for the group rather than separately by each member. Examples of economies of scale include centralized business functions and pooled benefits or insurance. Groups that commonly exhibit a flow of value include vertically or horizontally integrated businesses, conglomerates, parent companies with their wholly owned subsidiaries, and entities in the same general line of business. Flow of value must be more than the mere flow of funds arising out of passive investment.

Businesses are integrated with, are dependent upon, or contribute to each other under many of the same circumstances that establish flow of value. However, this alternate relationship test is also commonly satisfied when one entity finances the operations of another or when there exist intercompany transactions, including financing.