THE LAW OFFICE of DOMINIC SILVESTRI, PLLC


THIS IS NOT A TAX BILL: FIGHTING YOUR PROPERTY TAXES

It’s that time again. In most communities, the end of February and beginning of March means more than just spring is around the corner.  This is when most municipalities send out their new Property Tax Notices.  This is also your only opportunity to fight your property taxes, if they are over-valued.  Unfortunately, most cities or townships send their notices with big letters stating:

THIS IS NOT A TAX BILL

“Great” you think as you toss that letter in the garbage. However, this is exactly what your local tax assessor wants you to do. You might as well be tossing your cash into the garbage with it.

Every February and March, as we start to get glimpses of a spring long overdue, many municipalities send out their notices regarding what your new property tax values will be for the coming year. Although these notices often use the word “VALUE” throughout, most people either think “great, my home value has increased” or simply ignore the information.  However, these Notices could potentially cost you thousands of dollars if ignored.

What is the Notice of Assessment?

The Notice of Assessment is a form that indicates changes in the value of property and how these changes will affect your property taxes. You will see 3 valuations:

  1. Taxable Value
  2. Assessed Value
  3. State Equalized Value (SEV)Taxable Value. Your taxable value will likely increase every year. By law your Taxable Value shall increase by the Inflationary Rate or 1.05, whichever is less.Assessed/State Equalized Value. For simplicity purposes, your Assessed Value and your SEV will be treated the same. This valuation is approximately ½ the “true cash value”. The true cash value means the usual selling price at the time of assessment that could be obtained at a private sale and not at auction sale. The numbers give you an idea of how much this property could sell for and how much of that value you will pay taxes on.

These values are important as your Taxable Value cannot exceed the SEV. Ever.

So if you read nothing else in this article read this:

Dispute your Assessed/SEV values to get this amount below your taxable value.

Again: Taxable Values cannot be greater than the SEV!

How to Read Your Notice of Assessment: click here

How to fight your Property Taxes?

Remember, you must start at the Local Board of Review. Contact the phone number in the Notice of Assessment and request an appointment. Prior to your appointment, you will need do some homework:

  1. Compare your records and beliefs with the assessor’s and understand differences. For example, discrepancies in the square footage, or in the number of rooms or any other item affecting value should be explained.
  2. Speak with the assessor about facts which you believe are either erroneous, missing or should be considered.
  3. Most assessors will automatically correct errors of fact when they are discovered and you will not have to appear before the board of review.
  4. If you decide you must appear before the local board of review, be prepared to document facts and any value you believe should be placed on your home.
  5. Documentation includes:
    • examining sales the assessor may offer as evidence of the value of your property.
    • Finding recent sales of properties comparable to yours
    • Make a comparison of average selling prices per square foot for properties that have been used by either you or the assessor as comparables
    • Examine comparables for glaring differences between them and your property: this could be age, lot size, condition, number of bedrooms, pools, garages etc.

If your local board of review does not change your values, your next course of action is filing with the Michigan Tax Tribunal to further dispute the valuations.

However, if you are going to the Tax Tribunal consider hiring a professional:

  1. Hiring an attorney to fight your tax assessment could save you a lot of money.
  2. In addition to hiring an attorney, you may need to hire a professional appraiser.
  3. This is a person who charges a fee for appraising your property and has no financial or other interest in it which might effect the estimate of value.
  4. Choose a person licensed by the state and preferably one with a professional designation for a professional organization.
  5. Verify that the appraiser agrees his/her work may be used in a Board of Review Hearing
  6. Verify that the appraiser would be willing to appear on your behalf if necessary before the Board of Review or the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

 

Attorney Dominic Silvestri has been helping homeowners fight their tax assessments for over 10 years. Have questions? Give us call. It will cost you nothing and we can give you an idea as to whether a tax appeal will benefit you.


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