Michigan law requires that a Property Transfer Tax Affidavit (“PTA”) be filed with the local assessor (city or township) upon the transfer of ownership of real property. As used in the statute “transfer of ownership” means the conveyance of title to or a present interest in real property or some personal property. The PTA must be filed within 45 days of the date of transfer.
The penalties for failure to file can be severe. Generally, (i) if the sale price of the property transferred is $100,000,000.00 or less, the penalty is $20.00 per day for each separate failure beginning after the 45 days have elapsed, up to a maximum of $1,000.00 or (ii) if the sale price of the property transferred is more than $100,000,000.00, the penalty is $20,000.00 after the 45 days have elapsed. Note, the statute is complex and each situation needs to be carefully reviewed with your real estate attorney.
Additionally, if the assessor discovers the transfer in a later tax year, the assessor can go back and reassess the property for the three prior years and bill for the difference in the taxes actually paid plus interest and penalties.
In order to protect yourself, you must make sure that you have timely filed the PTA. When filing you should also have a copy time-stamped by the local assessor, so you can prove the PTA was properly and timely filed. The safest way to accomplish this is to hand-file the PTA and ask at that time for the copy to be time-stamped. However, in these days of COVID-19 shutdowns, many assessors’ offices are closed. If this is the case in the applicable jurisdiction, I suggest you utilize either (i) an overnight delivery service or (ii) certified mail, return receipt requested. You should send the original along with a copy to be time-stamped together with a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope and request in your cover letter that time-stamped copy be returned to you. Utilizing either an overnight delivery service or certified mail, return receipt requested will provide evidence that you did timely file the PTA.