- Why should I get a professional appraisal on my property?
The principal function and greatest value of an appraiser is to serve as an impartial third party who will provide an unbiased, individual assessment of your property. A professional real estate appraiser (fee appraiser) has no interest in your property, financial or otherwise, that might affect the way they estimate the property’s value. When selecting an appraiser, choose someone who is state-licensed and preferably has a professional designation from a professional organization. It’s also important to verify that 1) the appraiser agrees to have his or her work used in a Board of Review hearing, and 2) the appraiser would be willing to appear on your behalf, if necessary, before the Board of Review or the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
- All the homes around me are selling for less than mine - shouldn’t my property tax be reduced?
If you believe that your home value is too high and that your property taxes should be reduced based on average home sales in your area, begin your case for a correction by verifying all the pertinent facts. It’s important to compare your records and beliefs about your property and comparables with the information gathered by the assessor. If any errors of fact are discovered, most assessors will automatically make the necessary corrections, preventing you from having to appear before the Board of Review and make an appeal.
- What steps will I have to take to lower my property taxes?
To lower your property taxes, the first step is to file an appeal. This can be done in person or through an agent. If you choose to work with an agent, they will need to be provided with a written document wherein you have authorized their right to appeal on your behalf. You may also file an appeal in writing if your primary residence is not in the jurisdiction in which the property being appealed is located.
If you decide to appear before the Board of Review, it is crucial that you are prepared to document the facts regarding your property. Pertinent documentation includes gathering comparables; comparing average selling prices per square foot between your property and the comparables; reviewing the sales that the assessor may provide as evidence of your property’s value to look for any discrepancies or facts which you believe to be erroneous, incomplete, or worthy of further consideration; examining comparables to identify any differences that may exist between those properties and your own (age, condition, lot size, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, finished basements, pools, garages, etc.)
Verify all Board of Review meeting dates, the method by which you may register to appear before the board, and whether you need an appointment to make an appearance. Submit your materials to the board at least one week prior to your appeal date (earlier if the issues involved in your appeal are particularly complicated) so that the assessor will have ample time to review the information.
Contracting with an agent to manage your appeal means that you will only need to fill out the Retention Agreement and the agent will handle the rest. This includes valuation, processing the application, and representing you at the Board of Review.
- If I do everything right, what are my chances for getting my property taxes lowered?
The most well-documented and represented properties are the most likely to receive an appropriate reduction in tax. Hiring an agent to handle your appeal for you is a wise decision and room for error is eliminated by retaining the services of a professional.
- What will happen once I have submitted my property tax appeal?
Township Boards of Review convene the Tuesday following the first Monday in March each year. The board makes its decisions on appeal according to the facts that existed on tax day (in Michigan, this is the preceding December 31).
Every municipality is required by the state of Michigan to set Board of Review dates in March of each year. This allows only a small window of opportunity to appeal to the board. If you are appealing an assessment of a city property, check with the Assessor for Board of Review meeting dates; city boards are not bound to the specific meeting dates that state law requires for townships. Municipal meeting dates are set by the charter of the city.
- My income has been drastically reduced - shouldn’t I have a better chance of getting my property taxes lowered?
A property tax assessment cannot be appealed simply because you cannot afford to pay the tax. Property taxes are based upon a property’s value only, not the owner’s income.
If your taxes are too high for you to afford, Michigan’s “Circuit Breaker” law states that any Michigan taxpayer who pays more than 3.5 percent of their household income in property taxes is eligible for benefits (form 1040CR filed with your state income taxes).
Only the value of the property estimated by the assessor is appealable to the Board of Review - the high taxes themselves are never appealable. The only exception to the rule is Michigan’s “poverty exemption.” Under this law, the Board of Review may order that the State Equalized Value on your property be reduced or even deemed completely exempt. This exemption is granted for only one year at a time but the reduction does allow for the property’s Taxable Value to be reduced, thereby reducing your annual tax burden.
- What if my appeal is turned down?
If the reduction amount offered by the Board of Review is less than what you and your agent feel to be fair, further action can be taken at the State Tax Tribunal./
- How much will it cost me to appeal my property taxes?
The only cost to you for an appeal is the cost of hiring a professional appraiser to assess your property.
- What are the important dates for filing a Michigan Tax Appeal?
Appeals may be filed (these dates are determined by the date of postmark on the submitted materials):
- 30 days after a notice of assessment change is issued, if the notice was not properly sent before the March Board of Review for the tax year in question.
- 30 days after a State Tax Commission order is issued.
- 30 days after notice of a July or December Board of Review decision is issued revising a property’s assessed or taxable value.
- 35 days after notice of an uncapping of taxable value is received.
- After the March Board of Review and on or before June 30 of the tax year that is in question.
- Special Assessment Appeals vary by statute and may be filed 10 to 30 days after the hearing to confirm the special assessment roll.
- Contested Tax Bills must be filed within the 60 days after the mailing of that contested tax bill.
- Homestead Exemption Appeals must be filed within 35 days after the date that a denial from a local jurisdiction is issued, or 35 days after the Department of Treasury issues their final notice of determination.
- An appeal for a Qualified Agricultural Exemption must be filed within 30 days after notice of a July or December Board of Review decision is issued denying the exemption.
- Are there any property tax breaks for senior citizens?
Senior Citizens, the disabled and others may qualify for a greater reduction under circuit breaker laws than the ordinary working stiff, but each category receives benefits.