Six Year Delay in Issuing the Decision did not Prejudice the Taxpayer
In Huron Development, L.L.C. v. City of Lansing, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 303618, September 19, 2013, the Michigan Tax Tribunal’s order upholding the special assessments that were levied against a taxpayer’s real property in property tax year 2003 for curb, gutter, and storm sewer improvements was upheld because the Tax Tribunal did not commit an error of law or adopt a wrong legal principle and its factual findings were supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence. Moreover, the Tax Tribunal’s lengthy delay in issuing its opinion did not deny the taxpayer its right to procedural due process.
The taxpayer contended that the Tax Tribunal erred by rejecting the taxpayer’s market value appraisal. The Tax Tribunal based its decision on the fact that the appraisal did not value the property both with and without the special assessment improvements, which was necessary to determine whether the improvements resulted in an increase in the value of the property.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the evidence supported the Tax Tribunal’s decision because the taxpayer’s appraisal improperly focused on the value of properties with and without on-site storm water detention ponds and did not engage in correct comparisons to properties with and without curb, gutter, and storm sewer improvements. Further, because the taxpayer failed to present credible evidence rebutting the presumption of the validity of the special assessments, the Tax Tribunal had no basis to strike down the special assessments and the burden of going forth with the evidence never shifted to the city.
The taxpayer also argued that the Tax Tribunal’s six-year delay in issuing its opinion denied the taxpayer its right to due process. The appellate court held, however, that the taxpayer failed to show that it was prejudiced by the delay. The taxpayer paid the special assessments in full under protest before the Tax Tribunal conducted the hearing and was in no worse position after the Tax Tribunal issued its decision.