Tuition tax break pursued

March 15, 2009
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LANSING — Companies that offer tuition reimbursement as an employee benefit will receive tax credits under legislation introduced by state Rep. John Proos.

Proos said he hopes the legislation will encourage more companies to assist employees who choose to continue their education.

"Michigan's continued job loss in the automotive and manufacturing industries is proof positive that our economy is different than it was 50 years ago. Having a well-educated work force is the key to keeping our competitive edge," said Proos, R-St. Joseph, in a news release. "My legislation makes it easier for employees to keep their skills up-to-date so that no one ever has to risk becoming obsolete or losing their job to low-skill labor overseas."

Proos' bill allows businesses to claim a 10 percent tax credit for qualifying educational expenses paid on behalf of employees, up to $600 a year per employee. If the amount of the tax credit exceeds a company's tax liability in a given year, the credit may be carried forward to future tax years.

Proos said he got the idea to provide tax credits to businesses that offer tuition reimbursement from Becky Kliss, owner of Great Lakes Cleaning. Kliss, also a board member of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce in Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, suggested it to him at a meeting last fall, pointing out that it would help her grow her business.

"A lot of today's young college graduates and those wanting to go back to graduate school look for companies that offer tuition reimbursement when applying for jobs. We can help keep this vital demographic here in Michigan instead of losing them to other states by making it easier for companies to offer this benefit," Proos said.

Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce Vice President Pat Moody said he was pleased Proos is continuing to fight for the legislation after lawmakers failed to act on it last year.

"It is vital that local businesses avail themselves of every possible opportunity to train and retrain critical members of the work force for more advanced jobs of today and high tech jobs of tomorrow," Moody said. "We are pleased Rep. Proos is reintroducing this key measure."

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