May 31 or July 31? Avoiding a Tax Appeal Trap

In Michigan, property taxpayers can challenge the amount of taxes assessed against a property by disputing the assessed value of the property and alleging that the assessed value exceeds fifty percent of the property’s true cash value, which is synonymous with market value. Although the volume of assessment appeals has significantly decreased from the historic high levels of 2009-2011 during the Great Recession, there are still many circumstances where an appeal of a property’s assessment may be advisable. Those circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a recent purchase of the property for a price far below the assessed value or recent construction on the property.

In those circumstances where an appeal is advisable, it is critical to understand the filing deadlines before the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT). The MTT has original and exclusive jurisdiction over appeals of a property’s assessment. See MCL 205.731. For property classified as residential or agricultural, an owner must first appear before the local taxing authority’s board of review in March, and then must file an appeal before the MTT on or before July 31. See MCL 205.735a(3) and (6).

On the other hand, owners of commercial or industrial property, have no obligation to first petition the local board of review. However, the deadline for filing an appeal with the MTT for property with these classifications is May 31. See MCL 205.735a(4)(a) and (6).

In both situations, the filing before the MTT is merely the first step in a sometimes-lengthy process that requires particularized knowledge of the rules and customs of practice before the MTT. Property tax appeals are filled with both procedural and substantive traps for the unwary, of which the filing deadline is merely the first.


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