Making a case to the tax man property owners appeal for rate cuts
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Making a case to the tax man Property owners appeal for rate cuts. JOHN WISELY, KATHLEEN GRAY and STEVE NEAVLING Detroit Free Press, March 28, 2010. http://www.freep.com/article/20100328/NEWS06/3280426/1322/Property-owners-appeal-for-cuts-in-property-taxes. Seeking Relief.

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Making a case to the tax man Property owners appeal for rate cuts

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Making a case to the tax man property owners appeal for rate cuts

Making a case to the tax manProperty owners appeal for rate cuts

JOHN WISELY, KATHLEEN GRAY and STEVE NEAVLING

Detroit Free Press, March 28, 2010

http://www.freep.com/article/20100328/NEWS06/3280426/1322/Property-owners-appeal-for-cuts-in-property-taxes


Seeking relief

Seeking Relief

  • Property values across Michigan fell hard in 2009, reducing tax bills with them, but many homeowners wanted more.

  • So, in city and township halls across the state this month, they’ve confronted the tax man seeking more relief.

  • Review boards heard thousands of stories of unfair treatment.

  • A typical one: My neighbors’ homes are as big and nice as mine but you say mine is worth $20,000 more, making my taxes higher?

  • After the protests, the boards decide who’s right: assessor or homeowner. Or maybe they compromise.


What does it take to beat the tax man

What does it take to beat the tax man?

  • For homeowners in Michigan, it's mostly about the comps -- comparable properties that have sold recently. Their prices, often broken down by a price per square foot, make the difference between winning and losing an appeal.

  • The overwhelming majority of homeowners in Michigan will get a tax cut this year because their home prices and, in most cases, their taxable values, sank. Still, many -- aware that homes in their neighborhoods are selling at amazingly low prices -- asked for even steeper reductions.

  • For simplicity, in the following examples, we have used figures that show what assessors say a property is worth, which is actually twice what the actual assessment is.


He did his homework

He did his homework

  • Location: Troy

  • Homeowner: Mike Kowalski

  • Purchase price and year: $280,000 in 1998

  • 2009 assessment: $300,000

  • 2010 assessment: $286,000

  • His request: $256,000


One of the smallest colonials

One of the Smallest Colonials

  • "I'm the guy with one of the smallest colonials in the sub," Kowalski said. "I don't feel that's a bona fide reason to over-assess me."

  • The three-person board agreed, at the encouragement of assessor Nino Licari.

  • "He did his homework, boys and girls," Licari said. "I don't think you need to belabor it."

  • The board reduced the value of his home $15,000 to $271,000, which will reduce his tax bill about $260 a year.


How he did it

How He Did It!

  • In making his case, Kowalski noted that he has the original carpet, his cabinets are from 1983 and his in-ground pool is 24 years old.

  • "We've got the pool valued at $8,000," Licari said.

  • When Kowalski asked board members if they had any questions, Borys Potapenko didn't hesitate. "Do you have a finished basement?" Potapenko said.

  • In Troy, hearings are in a small conference room at City Hall. Three board members and the assessor sit on one side of the table opposite the homeowners. Licari uses a laptop computer and a projector to display photos of the home, maps of the neighborhood and assessment documents.

  • Unlike many communities which inform residents by mail of their decisions, thereby avoiding facing angry residents, Troy gives residents an immediate answer to their face.

  • "It makes for a little more give and take," Licari said.


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