Michigan's Special Assessment Processes

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      Michigan Property Consultants L.L.C., provides information on special assessment processes and rules on both this website and via articles published in property tax administration magazines. Links to articles published for property tax administrators follow. First are links to two published articles. One distinguishes between the "ad valorem" special assessment and the traditional land based assessment. The other cites a number of rules applicable to the special assessment process including the steps to be followed and the apportionment methodology. The links are followed by an article written for you as a reader of this web page.

We now begin: "Basics for the levying of a special assessment and to evaluate its fairness"

      Regulations governing the adminstration of special assessment taxes come from many sources. In addition, there are several groups of persons and agencies administering special assessment levies within Michigan. The practical impact of that circumstance is confusion ... resulting in special assessment administrators becoming frustrated; and in many cases, taxpayers getting angry ... believing they not being treated fairly.

     The purpose of the brief information which follows is to provide the reader with a generalized background for the levying of a special assessment. Remember, books have been written about just one of these laws. The information which follows is a guideline, to be used in connection with a close examination of the specific statute which authorizes the special assessment levy and in consultation with experts such as tax assessors, attorneys and those with special knowlege of appropriate facts.

Certain elements of a special assessment levy are concisely spelled out in this language from a routine court case:

A special assessment is not a tax. Rather, a special assessment is a specific levy designed to recover the costs of improvements that confer local and peculiar benefits upon property within a defined area. Kadzban v City of Grandville, 442 Mich 495, 502; 502 NW2d 299 (1993). Special assessments are sustained upon the theory that the value of property in the special assessment district is enhanced by the improvement for which the assessment is made. Knott v City of Flint, 363 Mich 483, 499; 109 NW2d 908 (1961). Municipal decisions regarding special assessments are generally presumed to be valid. In re Petition of Macomb Co Drain Commr, 369 Mich 641, 649; 120 NW2d 789 (1968). A special assessment will be declared invalid only when a party challenging the assessment demonstrates that there is a substantial or unreasonable disproportionality between the amount assessed and the value which accrues to the land as a result of the improvements. Kadzban, supra at 502, quoting Crampton v Royal Oak, 362 Mich 503, 514-516; 108 NW2d 16 (1961). The party challenging the special assessment also has the burden of establishing the True Cash Value (TCV) of the property being assessed. MCL 205.737 The TCV is equivalent to fair market value, CAF Investment Co v State Tax Comm, 392 Mich 442, 450; 221 NW2d 588 (1974), and is defined as the usual selling price at the place where the property to which the term is applied is at the time of the assessment, being the price that could be obtained for the property at private sale ... MCL 211.27"

Rema Village Mobile Home Park v Ontwa Twp, Michigan Court of Appeals case No. 256395 unpublished.


     Here are the fundamental elements of any special assessment levy:

Michigan Property Consultants expresses the information stated above, and in all other parts of the company's web site, based upon the company's many years of experience with property taxation and special assessment issues. The reader is cautioned that Michigan Property Consultants L.L.C. does not practice law and is not competent to offer legal advice. The reader is cautioned to seek appropriate legal advice and the advice of all other appropriate professional (for example, engineers and accountants) before making a decision influenced by the text recited above. The statements are made for informational purposes and do not constitute (nor are they intended to constitute) professional advice involving any reader's specific situation.

     Michigan Property Consultants is a small firm, proud of its mid-western work ethic and service. We want to provide our clients with the benefits of professional, personal service founded on years of experience in matters of property taxation. We don?t sell real estate, we don?t appraise real estate, we are not lawyers and we don?t do income taxes. We do focus on matters of real property taxation and special assessment administration within the state of Michigan ... to such an extent that our CEO has been selected for many years to Chair a property tax appeal board, to teach assessment classes and to serve on various advisory committees. His written work has been published in many forums and has been honored by his peers

For fee based assistance with your problem call us at 989 793-7373.

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