Michigan Tax Tribunal
The Michigan Tax Tribunal is an administrative tax court that hears tax appeals for all Michigan taxes. As the state’s tax court, the Tribunal has authority over assessment disputes related to either property or non-property tax matters. To resolve those disputes, the Tribunal conducts hearings and renders written decisions based on the evidence submitted by all parties.
Types of Taxes That Can Be Contested in Front of the Michigan Tax Tribunal
– Residential Property Taxes
– Commercial Property Taxes
– Property Tax Non-Profit Exemption
– Individual and Business Income Taxes
– Sales, Use, and Withholding Taxes
– Michigan Unemployment Taxes
– Corporate Officer Liability
– Single Business Tax or Michigan Business Tax
– Michigan Motor Fuel Tax
– Any proceeding over which the tribunal has jurisdiction
Michigan Tax Tribunal Structure
At any given time, there is a minimum of five members, all of whom are appointed by the Governor. A member can serve four-year terms. One member is appointed to serve as chairperson. All Tribunal members are required to live in Michigan and must be United States citizens. The group of Tribunal members is required to be composed of two attorneys, one certified level IV assessor, one professional real estate appraiser, and one certified public accountant (CPA). No more than three members can be members of the same professional discipline. Any member who is not an CPA, appraiser, assessor, or attorney must have at least five years of experience in local or state tax matters. These strict rules ensure that decisions are made by people with expertise and extensive knowledge in their respective fields.
The Tribunal is divided into two divisions: the “Entire Tribunal” and “Small Claims.”
The Entire Tribunal Division of the Michigan Tax Tribunal
The Entire Tribunal utilizes a formal hearing process to resolve the more complicated appeals. There is a formal record of the hearing. Typically, attorneys are hired to represent the parties. Entire Tribunal Hearings can range in length from one day to two months. Occasionally, these cases could take longer than two months. The presiding judge is either a Tribunal member or a hearing officer (i.e. an administrative law judge). With the exception of principal residence and qualified agricultural exemption appeals, any case may be filed in the Entire Tribunal.
The Small Claims Division of the Michigan Tax Tribunal
The Tribunal’s Small Claims Division utilizes an informal hearing process to resolve the majority of appeals filed with the Tribunal. There is no formal record of the hearing. Small Claims hearings are generally 30 minutes in length. Property tax appeal hearings are held in the county in which the property is located or in an adjoining county. Non-property tax appeal hearings are held at the Tribunal. The presiding judge is a hearing referee, a hearing officer (i.e., an administrative law judge), or a Tribunal member. Only certain cases may be filed in the Small Claims Division: property disputes involving residential property, poverty exemptions, and disputes involving other classifications with amounts in contention of not more than $100,000.
Practicing Before the Michigan Tax Tribunal
Practice before the Tribunal is governed by the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. The practice and procedures are similar to the Michigan Court Rules that govern practice before the courts in Michigan. The Tribunal’s Rules were revised in 2013 to reflect current practices and amendments made to the Tax Tribunal Act and the Michigan Court Rules.