State can’t shield GM tax credit, Michigan’s top court says

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, file photo, The Michigan Supreme Court's Hall of Justice is seen in Lansing, Mich. SANTA FE, N.M. _ Court majorities are at stake beyond Washington, D.C., as voters chose justices for state supreme courts that have been thrust into politicized clashes over voter access and the emergency powers of governors fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, wants to flip control of the states Republican-majority high court. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – The state must release details about a tax credit granted to General Motors, the Michigan Supreme Court said Wednesday in a dispute over public access to information.

In a 7-0 decision, the court ruled against the Michigan Economic Development Corp., part of state government, which had argued that GM's tax credit cap was protected from disclosure under law.

The court said a document that contains the figure doesn't meet the “proprietary information” exemption that could otherwise keep it under wraps.

“Through the agreement, (the state) extended billions of dollars of tax credits to GM, thereby allowing GM to reduce its tax liability or claim refunds,” the court said.

GM was not a party in the lawsuit. But the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of economic development groups had urged the Supreme Court to affirm a lower court ruling against disclosure.

Some information was released in 2020 in an unrelated action while the appeal was pending. The value of GM’s maximum credit was cut by $325 million to approximately $2.28 billion through 2029.

Nonetheless, Detroit activist David Sole said a decision by the Supreme Court would be important in any future disputes over public disclosure of tax credits.