Property Was Not Owned, Used, and Occupied In Michigan
In City of Port Huron v. State Tax Commission, Michigan Court of Appeals, Nos. 301058 and 301062, March 20, 2012; the Court of Appeals reversed the Tax Tribunal in ruling that two parcels of real property that were leased by a Michigan telephone company were not subject to state rather than local property taxation. In order for the property to be considered as having a situs in the state, it had to be owned, used, and occupied by a telephone company within the state.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that every word or phrase in the applicable statutory provision that defined "property having a situs in this state" had to be given its plain and ordinary meaning unless specifically defined in the statute. The question in this case was one of statutory interpretation.
The court noted that the phrase "owned, used, and occupied" in the applicable provision modified "tangible property, real and personal." Because there was no reason not to apply the literal meaning of "and," the court concluded that all three conditions of "owned, used, and occupied" had to be satisfied.
In this case, the telephone company was the lessee, rather than the owner in fee, of the disputed properties. Therefore, the leased parcels did not fit the statutory definition of "only the tangible property, real and personal, owned, used, and occupied by a telephone company within this state." Accordingly, the Michigan Tax Tribunal erred in holding that the property was subject to state and not local assessment.