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Appealing property tax assessments when you miss the deadline

May 19, 2017
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Appealing real property tax assessments on business property requires careful attention to the details, including filing the appeal by the relevant deadlines.

But, what happens if you miss those deadlines? The short answer is you still have a few options, but they apply in only very limited circumstances.

Your first option is to determine if the nature of your claims falls within the definition of a “qualified error” that can be corrected for the current year and the immediately preceding year by the local board of review in July or December. Some of the more typical qualified errors include:

  • A clerical error relative to the correct assessment figures, the rate of taxation or the mathematical computation relating to the assessment of taxes.
  • A mutual mistake of fact.
  • An erroneous “uncapping” of the taxable value even though there was no transfer of ownership. This error can be corrected for the current calendar year and the three preceding calendar years.
  • An error of measurement of the physical dimensions or components of the real property being assessed.
  • An error of omission or inclusion of a part of the real property being assessed.
  • An error regarding the correct taxable status of the real property being assessed.

In addition, the State Tax Commission has the authority to correct incorrectly reported or omitted property for the current calendar year and the prior two calendar years.

Finally, the Michigan Tax Tribunal has the authority to correct errors going back up to three years from the date of payment where a taxpayer has been assessed and paid taxes in excess of the correct and lawful amount due to a clerical error or mutual mistake of fact made by the assessing officer and the taxpayer.

These are all narrow routes to relief, but they do occasionally come into play.

For example, if in redeveloping property the taxpayer demolishes all of the improvements on the property by Dec. 31 of the prior year but does not realize until after the appeal deadline has passed for the following year’s assessment that the assessor continued to tax the property as if the improvements were there, then that is a “qualified error.”

It should be corrected by the local board of review during its July or December meetings for the current year and/or the prior year if applicable. It may also be a “mutual mistake” correctable going back up to three years or “incorrectly reported” property correctable going back up to two years.

In summary, if you miss the relevant deadlines but still want to appeal your assessment, you might have options. They apply in only very narrow circumstances, however, and provide only limited relief, so it’s best to simply meet the deadlines.

Christian Meyer is a partner and chair of the Property Tax Group at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP and can be reached at (616) 752-2423 or cmeyer@wnj.com.

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