East Lansing Income Tax Administrator DaMar Boyd, a Grand Rapids transplant, is no stranger to the detail that’s required for implementing city income taxes.
Boyd, 31, started working with taxes in Grand Rapids in January 2013, where he was an income tax specialist before becoming an administrative analyst. Grand Rapids first implemented its income tax in 1967.
In 2017, during his tenure, Grand Rapids residents were able to fill out tax forms online for the first time. Residents also received help navigating the forms at Grand Rapids City Hall.
Boyd appeared in a short video explaining the need for the city’s extended hours of service.
Last November, Boyd took the job in East Lansing to oversee its newly created income tax department. His office acts as the liaison for residents and employees in the city seeking information about the tax.
Boyd completed his education in Grand Rapids, receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University. He described the opportunity as an advancement from his previous line of work.
“I sought that out as a great opportunity for me career-wise,” he said. “I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of an income tax in Grand Rapids. ... There are very good processes that Grand Rapids has in place that I have been establishing here.”
Jennifer Woodard, Grand Rapids’ income tax administrator, said it makes sense that Boyd is bringing his past experience with him, as the group of 24 Michigan cities with an income tax help each other with administrative best practices.
“Some of the processes that he has done and the matching he has done with withholding, we were able to share that with other cities,” she said.
Woodard spoke to Boyd’s “wealth of knowledge” derived from supervising the employer withholding portion of the income tax, a large portion of the revenue stream. Boyd was also involved in employee training while in Grand Rapids.
“He’s able to bring all of those tools and establish them in East Lansing,” Woodard said. “I think he is a very respectful, likable, calm guy and Grand Rapids is definitely going to miss having him here.”
Boyd said the first step to making the tax law a reality is to spread awareness of its existence, especially for companies located outside city boundaries which employ East Lansing residents.
“My main focus right now is getting the information out to as many individuals and companies as possible,” he said.
City Councilmember Aaron Stephens said there were initial problems getting businesses aligned with the tax during its roll-out this year.
“Getting that information out, it’s a difficult thing to do,” he said.
Stephens said he hopes to see the same active communication with residents and businesses Boyd has aimed to provide continue through the future.
“It’s a full-time job, making sure you manage our relationship with businesses and answer questions that are needed,” he said.
Boyd said he is also aiming to tighten up the security of the city’s internal systems, to ensure the office collects information safely and to make individuals aware of the impacts going forward.
Boyd and the tax office have already accomplished some helpful developments.
He said the “common form” the city uses for filing the taxes is a uniform layout the city and the state use to ensure there aren’t multiple versions of tax forms floating around, causing confusion for all parties.
“Each city, they have their own form,” Boyd said, “but the layout of the form is the same.”
From the administrator’s perspective, the income tax office processes forms from individuals, employers and corporate partnerships. Boyd’s previous work dealt only with employer withholding. Now, he handles taxes from all three sides.
“DaMar has been doing great so far,” Stephens said. “We’re happy to have him on board.”