Updated: Sep 9, 2021
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Visit Oakland County's website to view pre-March Board of Review values and sales map. Download a market analysis spreadsheet to assist in gathering information for an effective appeal.
Determine if the Assessor's appraisal of property is accurate
The first point is to determine is the actual market value or "true cash value" of your property; then compare that figure with the Assessor's judgment of the valuation. The State Equalized Value (SEV) listed on all property tax bills and on notices of assessment increases, is 50% of the assessors judgment of the property's actual market value. If a home was recently purchased, in an arms-length transaction, for less than the value placed on it by the assessor, and if others also recently purchased similar homes in your neighborhood for less than twice the assessed value as equalized, there is the clearest evidence that the actual market value may be lower than the true cash value established by the assessor.
If the property was owned for some time and the owner's estimate of the property's value is lower than the Assessor's true cash value, the owner will need to build a provable case regarding the true cash value of the property based upon sales of similar homes in the area. When appealing an assessment, be sure that the appeal is based upon the validity of the assessment. Boards of Review and the Michigan Tax Tribunal have no authority over the tax rate or the purposes for which tax monies are used. Including arguments about such issues in an appeal would be irrelevant and would waste part of the time allotted for presentation. Remarks should be limited to the assessment itself and avoid burdening the Boards with issues that they cannot change, chances for a favorable judgment may be increased.
An appeal based on the belief that "property taxes are too high" and/or "taxes are going up all the time" is not a good basis for an appeal.
A successful appeal must be based upon the validity of the assessed value. The owner must be able to show that the Assessors judgment of the value of your property was in error. The assessor may have valued a home above the actual market value, the valuation may be above that of identical or very similar houses in the area, or there may have been inaccuracies in the structural data on the house. An individual tax bill is computed by multiplying the taxable value times the local tax rate. The tax rate is often referred to as the millage because it is expressed in mills. A one-mill rate means that you pay $1.00 in tax for every $1,000 of SEV to which it applies. For example, if your property is assessed at $10,000 and the tax rate is 50 mills, your tax will be $500 ($10,000 x 0.050) or $50 for every $1,000 of SEV.
Gather the facts along the lines listed above. Provide documentation of comparable houses which sold at lower prices than the property's appraised value, or present a recent appraisal prepared to estimate fair market value. Presenting this information in written form with a copy for each Board member is very helpful in communicating your facts effectively.
The Assessor makes a direct appraisal of all properties as frequently as possible. Studies of property sales in the neighborhood or locality are often used to establish an index factor to assign value for that neighborhood. If the Assessor has not directly inspected your property recently, the assessment is generally made on the basis of their judgment of its value based upon information collected about each neighborhood and applied to your property. When preparing your appeal, it is wise to review the appraisal records to be certain that no incorrect information was used. If so, these errors should be brought to the attention of the assessor or appraiser. By law, your assessment office must furnish you with the form necessary to present the appeal. It is generally a good idea to ask any questions you may have about the form and be sure that you understand just what information you are required to supply. Look over the forms to be sure that you do not leave any question unanswered. All property record cards and assessment rolls are public information, and can usually be viewed during normal business hours with the exception of when the Board of Review is in session; many records are not available as the Board is using them. It is, therefore, wise to prepare your appeal and complete your form before the Board of Review begins its hearings.
A spreadsheet was prepared by city staff, at the suggestion of the Board of Review to assist in gathering information for an effective appeal. Supportive evidence must also be included with any appeal, for consideration.