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Property tax appeal 101


Residents prepare for Boards of Review



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March 04, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Already cash-strapped, lots of residents were disheartened to open up their property tax assessments and discover a bigger bill than last year.

Market values have dropped drastically but state law allows for a home's taxable value to rise, up to 4.4 percent, under Proposal A.

State lawmakers have again sounded the alarm that it's time for property tax reform but in the meantime, residents have the chance to potentially shave dollars off of their bill by appealing to their local board of review.

It appears a lot of residents are planning to do just that in the coming weeks. Close to 100 people attended State Rep. Kevin Daley's property tax appeal workshop last Monday (Feb. 23) at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Imlay City.

"It's the first time in years that property values have dropped," Daley said.

"Everyone wanted to know 'how can property taxes increase when assessed values are going down?' It's a product of Proposal A."

Before Proposal A, taxes were calculated on market value. After Proposal A, owner occupied homes were assessed at half its market value, or state equalized value (SEV), and the annual taxable value increase was limited to the rate of inflation or five percent, Daley explained.

Once a house is sold, the property taxes are uncapped and the new owners will see a sizeable increase on their tax bill.

If the home hasn't been sold, other factors that can hike a tax bill include physical changes to the property, a millage rate increase approved by voters, voter approval to override Headlee millage rollbacks or if the decrease in market value (SEV) still exceeds taxable value.

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State Rep. Kevin Daley addresses residents at a property tax meeting in Imlay City last week.
For citizens wishing to appeal their assessment, Daley offers the following tips:

•Call your assessor and politely explain your situation. Assessors only have control of the tax roll until March 1, but they could still answer any questions you may have.

"Don't call your assessor up and chew them out," Daley stresses.

"Instead, ask to review your appraisal card with them."

•Check the card for errors and to ensure your taxable value has increased no more than 4.4 percent

•Identify defects that could affect the value beyond normal aging. Specifically address problems not associated with general aging (cracked foundation or wall construction problems) in your appeal.

•Note changes in your neighborhood, particularly undesirable land uses (major road, mixed-use zoning) that could make a home less desirable than the same structure in a purely residential setting.

•If your home has been recently purchased or refinanced, determine whether your purchase price or appraisal is lower than your assessment.

•If the home is recently purchased, notify the assessor or board of review of the value of personal property included in the sale. Things like furniture and appliances are exempt from assessment.

•Find comparable home sales that support a lower value. They should be close in proximity and comparable in size and style.

•Document your findings into a cover letter which summarizes your appeal. This will help you present your case to the board of review in a concise manner. Often, citizens are limited to only five minutes to argue their case. Bring several copies of the letter for each member of the board.

Daley's tax appeal presentation can be found online at www.gophouse.com, and then click on 'Kevin Daley' under 'Members.'

Citizens not satisfied with the board of review's decision can appeal by petitioning the Michigan Tax Tribunal. See www.michigan.gov/taxtrib for more information.

If residents have issues with their assessor, Daley urges them to contact their township supervisor

Although Proposal A is shouldering the blame these days, Daley said it has served a purpose for taxpayers in the long run. If it hadn't been enacted, an unlimited millage rate would have easily doubled our taxes from what they are today.

Daley is encouraged that proposed legislation seeks to prevent a repeat of this year's problems. A joint House resolution seeks to ban a taxable value increase when market values fall. Another proposed bill would require foreclosure figures included in home sales studies.

Daley said he and other officials are "checking into different ideas and ways to think of financing schools other than through property taxes," he said.

Following are the dates and times of upcoming board of review hearings:

In Lapeer County

City of Imlay City:

March 9 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

March 10 from

2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Call 724-2135 for more information.

Imlay Township:

March 16 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

March 17 from

1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Call 724-8835 for more information.

Almont Township:

March 10 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

March 11 from

2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Call 798-8521 for more information.

Arcadia Township:

March 9 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

March 11 from

2:30-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Call 724-6565 for more information.

Attica Township:

March 9 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.

March 10 from

9 a.m. to noon and 6-9 p.m.

Call 724-8128 for more information.

Dryden Township:

March 9 from

2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

March 10 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Call 796-2248 for more information.

Goodland Township:

March 9 from

9 a.m.-5 p.m.

March 11 from

6-9 p.m.

Call 724-0169 for more information.

In St. Clair County

Berlin Township:

March 9 from

9 a.m.-3 p.m.

March 22 from

1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Mail appeals must be received by March 6.

Call 586-784-9969 for more information.

Lynn Township:

March 11 from

9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. March 12 from

1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Mussey Township:

Appeals will be heard by appointment on

March 9 from

9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-8 p.m. March 10 from

2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Mail appeals must be received by March 9.

Call 395-4915 for more information.

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