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GM criticized for seeking Detroit tax abatement


General Motors wants tax incentives to help offset an investment in its Detroit assembly plant.

But some Detroiters say the bankrupt city shouldn’t be handing out subsidies to profitable carmakers.

A small group of protesters circled in front of GM headquarters in downtown Detroit Monday, demanding that the corporation “pay its taxes.”

The Reverend Charles Williams II, who led the protest, said it's not right for GM to look for tax abatements while the city is in federal bankruptcy court, and pensioners face possible cuts.

“This tax abatement is on the backs of those pensioners, and on the backs of those who live in the community,” Williams said. “We’ve got big, huge facilities that still need police, still need fire…but they get away with not having to pay taxes for it. That’s not fair.”

“Remember, this is the same General Motors that we’ve already bailed out, and that each and every one of us in the United States are part owners of,” Williams added.

GM officials say the abatement would help offset a “significant” future investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, the company’s last remaining plant in the city.

Spokesman Alan Adler said the abatement works out to just $1.8 million over 15 years, and GM has invested more than $500 million in Detroit-Hamtramck since 2009. The Chevrolet Volt is made there, as are the 2013 Chevy Malibu and 2014 Chevy Impala.

Correction: This article originally misstated the the amount of tax incentives GM was seeking at nearly $30 million over 15 years. The correct amount as stated by GM was $1.8 million over 15 years. The Detroit City Council ultimately approved a $600,000 tax break over 12 years.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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