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How to Appeal Property Taxes in Michigan

Tax Law

It’s the time of year when Michigan residents begin receiving property tax assessments in the mail. With the largest increase in property taxes in Michigan history and the economic impact of the pandemic still going strong, property owners may be looking for ways to reduce their tax liability. In this article, we’ll outline how to appeal property tax assessments in the Great Lake State.

If you’re like many Michigan property owners, asking “why is my property tax so high”, contact our Michigan property tax lawyers at Shinners & Cook. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling 989-799-5000. You may also fill out our tax appeal information form here.

How to Reduce Property Tax Assessment

With many citizens still reeling from the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic, increased property taxes can be a huge issue for some Michigan owners and families. Depending on your situation, there may be a few options concerning your increased property tax assessment. If you believe there has been a mistake in the calculation of your property tax assessment, you may pursue a correction. If you cannot afford to pay your increased tax assessment, other alternatives may exist for you, including certain exemptions and reimbursements. This section will discuss the different alternatives that may be available to you, depending on your specific circumstances.

When You Believe There’s Been a Mistake

Some common mistakes that property owners find within their annual tax assessments may include incorrect square footage, incorrect number of rooms, a difference in the sales price and the assessment value, inaccurate land assessment values, wrong acreage counts, and more. When you receive your yearly tax assessment, make sure to review the details to validate its accuracy. If you find there is erroneous information on your property tax assessment, you may pursue a correction. Depending on various factors, there may be a few ways to go about correcting the information and reducing your potential tax liability:

  1. Discuss your findings with the assessor – Sometimes assessors will correct the misinformation upon discovery, which means you will not have to appear before the Board of Review.
  2. Protest your assessment with the Board of Review – Make sure you pay attention to your deadlines and the date on which the Board will meet in your jurisdiction. Dates may vary across the state.
  3. Compile the evidence – When you are protesting your tax assessment, you will need to present evidence that backs up the reasons you believe the information is incorrect. Continue reading for more information about how to collect evidence for your Michigan property tax appeal.

When You Can’t Afford Your Michigan Property Taxes

In the case that you cannot afford to pay your property tax assessment, there may be alternative options available. Your assessment is not calculated according to your income; it’s instead calculated based on your property’s value. Not being able to afford your property tax isn’t cause to appeal your assessment. Instead, there are other options, such as tax breaks or exemptions. If your assessment is too high for you to pay, some potential solutions you may explore are:

  1. Michigan’s “Circuit Breaker” Laws – The benefits of this law may be awarded to any Michigander who pays more than 3.5 percent of their household income in property taxes. 
  2. The Poverty Exemption – This exemption may be granted by the Board of Review, reducing or eliminating your State Equalized Value, therefore decreasing your annual tax liability.
  3. The Homestead Millage Rate – Under Michigan law, some qualified residential and agriculture properties are calculated using the Homestead millage rate, which will reduce your tax obligations.
  4. Disabled and Senior Citizen Considerations – Some individuals may be eligible for a greater reduction of property taxes pursuant to Circuit Breaker laws.

Steps to Appealing Michigan Property Taxes

If there is a mistake on your property tax assessment, the first step to appealing it is often protesting it in front of the Board of Reviews. In March, the Michigan Board of Review will begin hearing protests. Primarily, the Board will concentrate on valuation-centric protests, however, sometimes the Board may consider poverty exemptions and other forms of appeals. For specific information on your local board meetings, you can call your local assessor’s office.

Adherence to the associated deadlines is extremely important. Note that your deadlines will depend on your property tax classification and jurisdiction. Unfortunately, property owners may not have a lot of time between receiving their property tax assessments and the Board of Review meeting, making it more difficult to gather the appropriate information and evidence. Property owners are not required to appear in person in front of the Board of Review. They may instead elect to submit a written protest to the Board, so, if you feel you don’t have enough time to prepare for an in-person appearance, submitting a written protest will secure your right to appeal and may buy you some time to gather evidence. If you elect to submit a written protest, ensure that you have it to the Board prior to the meeting to preserve your right to appeal.

While residential property owners must first protest to the Board of Review, commercial or industrial real estate valuation appeals may be protested to the Board or directly to the Michigan Tax Tribunal before or on May 31. Additionally, appeal assessments in Grand Rapids or Detroit mandate that property owners participate in an assessor’s review prior to appealing to the local Board of Review.

Filing Your Appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal

Your appeal is considered filed when it is postmarked by the US Postal Service, delivered to a designated delivery service for filing at the tribunal or delivered by hand. You do not need to have paid your property taxes before filing, however, not paying can slow the final determination.

How to Win Your Tax Appeal in Michigan

These tips may improve your chances of being granted an appeal:

  • Consult a knowledgeable Michigan property tax lawyer
  • Know your options – should you appeal or seek an exemption or tax break?
  • Pay attention to every deadline and understand the terms
  • Gather evidence that supports your appeal (see below)
  • Document any damages or needed repairs and get the estimated cost of repair

It’s advisable that you be well informed and prepared when you submit a tax assessment appeal. In some cases, property owners have submitted an issue to the assessor only to be informed that they actually owe more due to the error and another error on the assessment. Having the facts reviewed by a professional can help alleviate any potential action that may lead to a higher tax bill.

Collecting the Evidence

Make sure to gather the appropriate evidence when submitting your appeal. Some examples of evidence may include:

  • Property record cards of your property, which are accessible at your local assessor’s office (this card documents the official description of your property and can help you correct mistakes like an inaccurate number of bathrooms.)
  • Cost estimations of any needed repairs. Damages and needed property repairs can save you tax dollars.
  • Property appraisals; obtaining a professional appraisal of your property can help you dispute property valuation mistakes.
  • Sales information on comparable properties in the area, as well as listed comparable properties in the market, can help you validate your actual property value.
  • Land value maps and grids may give you a proper estimate of your land value.

Depending on your specific situation, other forms of evidence may assist you in appealing your Michigan property tax assessment. A Michigan property tax lawyer can help you identify and compile the support you need to present to the Board or Michigan Tax Tribunal.

Consult an Experienced Michigan Property Tax Appeal Attorney

If you’re like many Michigan residents, your property taxes have gone through the roof, and you may need some relief. Our property tax appeal attorneys in Michigan can help. Read more about deciding whether or not to appeal your property tax assessment on our blog. To find out if an appeal is worth your time and effort, fill out our tax appeal information form, and we will reach back out to you. Additionally, you can call us at 989-799-5000 with any real estate questions and to schedule a consultation with one of Shinners & Cook’s experienced attorneys to discuss your options.