LANSING, Mich. — Knowing that filing taxes can be an arduous process susceptible to inaccuracies, Sen. Marty Knollenberg on Thursday offered the following explanation on appealing your property tax assessment:

“First, a few reminders may be helpful. The term “taxable value” was introduced in 1995. It is the value used to calculate your property taxes. Annual growth in taxable value is capped at the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less. The State Equalized Value (SEV) must still reflect 50 percent of the property’s true cash value, and may increase (or decrease) by more than the rate of inflation or 5 percent in any tax year. It is important to remember that your property taxes are no longer based on the SEV. Changes to your home’s assessed value will reduce your taxes only if it is an amount lower than the taxable value.

“Step 1—You may appeal your taxable value and SEV to the March Board of Review in 2014. Go to your local assessor’s office and obtain a copy of your property record card.

“Step 2—When you receive your notice of assessment, review it carefully. Locate the taxable value and SEV on the notice. If tentative taxable value increased by more than 1.6 percent above your 2013 taxable value, and you did not improve your home with additions, then your taxable value may exceed the assessment cap.

“Step 3—Locate the dates and times the March Board of Review is in session to hear appeals on the notice of assessment and whether you must make an appointment. If you believe your property is unfairly assessed relative to similar property and plan to appeal, you will need to provide market evidence.

“Step 4—Inspect your home for problems beyond normal aging. Obtain written repair estimates and take photographs to document any structural damage. Obtain citizen complaints of any undesirable characteristics in your neighborhood, such as excessive noise or eyesores.

“Step 5—Sales of comparable property are one of the most important tools for a property tax assessment appeal. If comparable properties are selling for less than double your SEV, you may argue that your property is over-assessed. Make your comparable study by reviewing sales of local homes. A local real estate agent may be a good resource. In addition, you may wish to have your home professionally appraised to inform the assessor of items, such as appliances included in a home’s sale price.

“Step 6—Check to see if you must complete Form L-4035 (Petition to Board of Review) or a local form to request an appeal. Put all of your information into letter form.

“Step 7—If you are not satisfied with the decision of your local Board of Review, you may continue your appeal. To do this, you must send a letter or formal petition to the Michigan Tax Tribunal (P.O. Box 30232, Lansing, MI 48909) and file an appeal by July 31. Find more information, including letter and petition requirements, at www.michigan.gov/taxtrib or by calling 517-636-7551.”

Knollenberg also explained that the Michigan Department of Treasury introduced an “offer-in-compromise” program that began on Jan 1. This program allows taxpayers to submit an offer to compromise a tax debt for less than the amount due based on these specific criteria:

1.    A doubt exists as to the liability based on evidence provided by the taxpayer.
2.    A doubt exists as to the collectability of the tax due based on the taxpayer’s financial condition.
3.    A federal offer-in-compromise has been given for the same tax year(s).

Further information about the offer-in-compromise program can be found on the homepage under the “Highlights” section of the Treasury website at www.michigan.gov/taxes.

For more information on tax issues or to contact Knollenberg, please visit www.senatormartyknollenberg.com or call 517-373-2523.