State Tax Commission Could Retroactively Reassess Taxpayers' Property
In Wuebben v. Township of Franklin, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 299573, December 22, 2011, the Court of Appeals ruled the Michigan Tax Tribunal did not err in concluding that the State Tax Commission (STC) had the authority to retroactively reassess the taxpayers' property for the tax years at issue because there were additions to the property that had been incorrectly omitted from the property tax roll. The taxpayers argued that the STC could not retroactively reassess property in the absence of some error or omission by the taxpayers. In this case, the structural additions on the property were omitted from the tax roll by a previous tax assessor. The Michigan Court of Appeals noted, however, that in Superior Hotels, LLC v. Mackinaw Twp, 282 Mich. App. 621, the court held that under new statutory language, the STC could retroactively reassess additions to property that were omitted from the tax roll, despite facts that showed no evidence of taxpayer omission.
The taxpayers also filed three specific exceptions to the proposed opinion and judgment of the tribunal's hearing referee, none of which related to the referee's conclusions with regard to the proper tax values to be placed on the taxpayers' property. The taxpayers argued that the scope of the tribunal's review was limited to the exceptions absent a hearing and that, because neither party took exception to or requested relief from the tax values in the referee's proposed opinion, the tribunal erred in reviewing and modifying the referee's tax values for the tax years at issue. However, provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act and the Tax Tribunal Act clearly indicated that the tribunal was the final authority on any decision within its jurisdiction absent appellate review. In arguing that the tribunal was limited in its review by the exceptions filed, the taxpayers were undercutting the tribunal's review powers, which were clearly mandated by the Administrative Procedures Act and the Tax Tribunal Act.
Circuit Court Lacked Jurisdiction to Enter Judgment of Mandamus
In Hillsdale County Senior Services Center, Inc. v. County of Hillsdale, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 301607, January 3, 2012, the Court of Appeals ruled a circuit court lacked jurisdiction to enter a judgment for mandamus that ordered a county to levy in tax years 2010 through 2022 the entire 0.5 mill increase that was authorized by the voters in the county in 2008 for the purpose of providing services to older persons because the assessment was levied under the Michigan property tax laws. In this case, residents of the county who received services wanted an order of mandamus to compel the county to levy the full amount of the millage approved by the voters. However, the gist of the residents' action concerned whether the county had the authority to levy less than the millage limitation approved by the voters. The court noted that a jurisdictional claim should be determined not by how a complaint is phrased but by the relief sought and the underlying basis of the action. Because the question presented by the residents' action related to direct review of a determination of rates under the property tax laws, the Tax Tribunal had subject matter jurisdiction.