Two Michigan townships recently took cases to the Michigan Court of Appeals, where they battled against the property assessment reductions for "big box" retailers. Large retailers such as Target, Menards and Walmart can appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal to lower their property assessments to "true cash value," which the tax tribunal defines as the "fair market value or the usual selling price of a property." A number of big box retailers across the state have had their property tax assessments slashed by the tax tribunal, but the decisions to grant lower property assessments for a Home Depot in Breitung Township and a Lowe’s in Marquette Township were the first to be appealed to the Court of Appeals. The reduction for Home Depot in Breitung amounts to a loss of more than 50 percent in taxable value for the property, but the outcome of the case will have implications statewide.
According to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Chief Clerk Peter Kopke assures that the tax tribunal does not make it a “practice” to grant reduced assessments. He said the decisions are based on evidence brought to the judges, and it is the townships’ right by law to challenge the appeal. “The townships propose a subjective valuation to real property that would penalize businesses for profitability,” William J. Hallan, the association’s senior vice president and general counsel said in a statement. “Not only do the townships suggest a valuation approach that is unconstitutional, but it lacks uniformity, with the potential to result in an unfair and abusive application.” Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, have introduced bills to limit the retailers’ ability to get around paying higher taxes, but neither bill has moved past its initial committee hearing. The appeal was held on April 8, and a decision has not been reached.
For the full article from the Traverse City Record-Eagle, click here.