Property Owner Failed to Provide Sufficient Documentary Evidence
In Austin v. Township of Liberty, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 296394, May 17, 2011 a taxpayer who challenged a judgment of the Michigan Tax Tribunal establishing the assessed value of her property for the local property tax years at issue failed to meet her burden of proving the true cash value of the property because she did not provide sufficient documentary evidence to support her contention that the assessment was unlawfully excessive. The taxpayer presented the Tax Tribunal with market evidence consisting of Standard & Poor's and Case-Shiller home prices indexes and newspaper articles on the economy and the decline in home values generally. She did not present any evidence regarding what similar properties were sold for on the market or any independent market data to offer in support of her value contentions.
The township, however, applied a sales-comparison valuation approach that yielded the most accurate valuation of the property. The Tax Tribunal also concluded that the true cash value of the property calculated by the township was correct, and the township presented substantial evidence in support of that conclusion.
In addition, the taxpayer was not entitled to relief based on equal protection grounds. She did not establish that she was treated differently from any similarly situated property owner. The statutes in question treated all taxpayers alike. The statutory formula governing increases in a property's taxable value applied equally to all property owners, and the method for determining taxable value did not vary depending on the person who owned the property or any other classification.