Michigan Supreme Court Clears Path For Judicial Review of State Tax Commission Decisions On Property Classification


Until recently, property owners in Michigan who disputed a local assessor’s classification of their property for tax purposes were not permitted to seek judicial review of the State Tax Commission’s decision. However, in Midland Cogeneration Venture Ltd Pshp v Naftaly, ___ Mich ___(May 23, 2011), the Michigan Supreme Court cleared the path for property owners to file an appeal in the appropriate circuit court by declaring that a statutory provision that precluded an appeal of the State Tax Commission’s decision was unconstitutional.

The Midland Congregation Venture case involved the consolidation of nine appeals in which property owners disputed the classification of their property as either “industrial real property” or “commercial personal property.” Each plaintiff sought to have its property classified as “industrial personal property” in order to take advantage of certain tax exemptions and credits available for that property classification. The plaintiffs individually filed petitions with their respective local boards of review, but each board denied the request for reclassification. The plaintiffs then separately appealed each board’s decision by filing a petition with the State Tax Commission (the “Commission”). Once again, each plaintiff’s request for reclassification was denied.

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