Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I want to operate a small business out of my home. Will I have to pay Personal Property Taxes?
A. Probably. You are required to file a Personal Property Statement with the Assessor's Office each year, so please contact our office with your business name and address.
Q. I have a business in my home but I have not made a sale or profit yet. Do I have to file a Personal Property Statement?
A. Yes. If the business property is there, it's assessable.
Q. I use a desk, chair, computer, printer and a telephone in one room of my home for my business, all of which is also used by my family for personal use. Do I have to report these items on the Personal Property Statement?
Q. Will operating a business out of my home affect my Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption?
A. It could. Typically, if it is a small area of your principal residence that is used for business the Assessor will not rescind your Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption for this area. You are required to report the square foot area used for your business on page 4 of the Personal Property Statement.
Q. I've started a new business in Brownstown. Where do I obtain a Personal Property Form?
A. Once you've registered your business with the Building Department and you have notified the Assessing Office, you will automatically be sent a current Personal Property Statement in December.
Q. It's only May, I'm a tenant in Brownstown and I've closed my business. What taxes am I responsible for this year with the township?
A. Assessments for the current year are determined as of December 31 (Tax Day) of the previous year. You are responsible for Personal Property Taxes for the entire year. You are required to provide the Assessing Office with a forwarding address.
Q. When will I receive tax bills for my Personal Property?
A. At the same time the tax bills are sent out for Real Property.
Q. I purchased a property by Land Contract. Is this considered a transfer of ownership?
A. Yes, provided no statutory exception or exemption applies. A Property Transfer Affidavit must be filed with the Assessor's Office. We also require a copy of the Land Contract.
Q. If a property is sold by Land Contract, when does the transfer of ownership occur?
A. The transfer of ownership occurs on the date the Land Contract is entered into - not the date the Land Contract is completed (paid in full).
Q. Is a conveyance of property to a trust a transfer of ownership?
A. Yes, provided no statutory exception or exemption applies. However, if the grantor stated on the deed is the settler (creator) of the trust or the settlor's spouse or both and the sole present beneficiary of the trust is the settlor of the trust or the settlor's spouse or both, the conveyance is not a transfer of ownership.
Q. What is the beneficiary of a trust?
A. A beneficiary of a trust is the person who has the enjoyment and beneficial use of the property during the life of the trust.
Q. What is a trustee of a trust?
A. A trustee of a trust is the person or agent who is appointed to administer the trust. Note that banks are often trustees.
Q. Is a transfer of property by a husband and wife to a trust with the husband and wife and their child as present beneficiaries a transfer of ownership?
A. Yes, provided no statutory exception or exemption applies. The child, a present beneficiary, is not the settler of the trust or the settlor's spouse.
Q. Is a transfer of property by a husband and wife to a trust with the husband and wife as present beneficiaries and their child as a contingent beneficiary a transfer of ownership?
A. No. The child is not a present beneficiary. The only present beneficiaries are the settler of the trust and the settlor's spouse.
Q. Is a conveyance of an ownership interest of property held as a tenancy in common a transfer of ownership?
A. Yes, provided no statutory exception or exemption applies. However, the transfer of ownership is only for that portion of the property ownership that is conveyed. Therefore, a partial uncapping of the property's Taxable Value in the year following the transfer of ownership is possible with tenancies in common.
Q. Is a transfer of property from one spouse to the other spouse a transfer of ownership?
A. As a general rule, no.
Q. Is a transfer of property from a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse a transfer of ownership?
A. As a general rule, no.
Q. Why is a transfer of ownership important with regard to property taxes?
A. In accordance with the Michigan Constitution as amended by Proposal A of 1994 and Michigan statutes, a transfer of ownership as defined by law results in the Taxable Value of the transferred property being uncapped in the year following the transfer of ownership.
Q. What is a Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption?
A. If you own and occupy your principal residence, it may be exempt from a portion of your local school operating taxes.
Q. What year's taxes are affected by the Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption?
A. A valid affidavit, filed on or before May 1 of the year the exemption is being claimed, will reduce that year's taxes.
Q. What are the criteria for claiming the Principal Residence Exemption?
A. You must own and occupy the property.
Q. I moved into a newly built home after May 1. Can I claim a Principal Residence Exemption this year?
A. No. If you file your exemption it will take effect the following year.
Q. I own two homes in Michigan. For which home do I claim the exemption?
A. The one you occupy as your principal residence.
Q. I am renting my house to a tenant. Can the tenant claim a Principal Residence Exemption?
A. No. You must own and occupy.
Q. I own the lot adjoining and contiguous to my home. It has a different property identification number than the parcel on which my principal residence is located. May I also claim an exemption on this property?
A. You may claim an exemption on this property as long as the property claimed is adjoining or contiguous to your home. It must also be classified residential and vacant. A road does not break contiguity. File an affidavit for each parcel.
Q. My home is in a licensed trailer park. Consequently, my garage and shed are taxable. May I claim this exemption for the garage and shed?
Q. I live in a nursing home but still maintain a home. May I claim an exemption on the home I own?
A. Yes, unless the home is rented to another person.
Q. Will I receive the Homeowner' Principal Residence Exemption if I do not enter my social security number?
A. The Department may deny a claim if homeowner refuses to provide his or her social security number on written request from the Department of Treasury.
Q. What is a Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption Rescission?
A. The parcel had qualified for an exemption but has now been sold or the owner no longer occupies the residence. The seller must file a Rescind Form with the Assessor's Office. The Department of Treasury may assess a $5.00 per day penalty up to $200.00 for failure to rescind an exemption.
Q. Is a lender required to file a Rescind on a property it has foreclosed on?
Q. When are my taxes due?
A. Tax bills are sent out twice a year. They are due and payable as of July 1 and December 1 but can be paid by September 14 and February 14 respectively without penalty.
Q. When are the Assessment Notices sent out each year?
A. Near the end of February.
Q. When are the Property Transfer and Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption Affidavits to be filed with the Assessor's Office?
A. The Property Transfer Affidavit is required to be filed within 45 days of the date of transfer to avoid penalty. The Homeowner's Principal Residence Exemption Affidavit needs to be in our possession by May 1st of the year the exemption is being claimed. Original signatures are required and the form properly completed.
Q. What is the deadline for filing Personal Property Statements with the township?
A. February 20th with the exception of "Qualified Personal Property" that must be filed by February 1st. Qualified Personal Property must be accompanied by a copy of the lease agreement. Reference the Personal Property Statement Instructions for "Qualified Personal Property".
Q. When does the Board of Review Meet?
A. On the Tuesday following the first Monday in March.
Q. I wish to split or combine my land. Where do I start?
A. First, contact the Assessor and ask if your land can legally be split or combined. Then you will be directed to the Supervisor's Office to obtain an application to fill out and return to the Supervisor's Office along with the appropriate supporting documentation.
Q. If I split my land and retain ownership of all parcels will the value uncap?
Q. I just received my Assessment Notice, how do I appeal my taxes?
A. You don't. You can appeal your Assessed Value and Taxable Value. The first recommended step is to contact the Assessing Office. Almost all concerns are solved by obtaining explanations. In the event that you wish to pursue an appeal, the Assessing Office at your request will place your name on a list for the March Board of Review. When you come in for your appointment you will fill in your reason for the request and sign the appropriate form.
Q. Who and how are members of the Board of Review chosen?
A. At least 2/3 of the members are property owners in Brownstown. They are volunteers approved by the township board. Brownstown has three Board members.
Q. When does the Board of Review Meet?
A. The Tuesday following the first Monday in March.
Q. What are the responsibilities of the Board of Review?
A. The Assessor turns the assessment roll over to the Board of Review, who can increase or decrease any improper assessment. The Board can also act on appeals of Classification, Status, Equity and Poverty Exemptions. The Board has no control over Millage Rates or Property Taxes.
The Board of Review is there for your benefit. Try to prepare a concise appeal, use valid documentation, stick to the facts and be organized and objective.
Q. What should I bring with me to support my appeal?
A. It is the burden of the taxpayer to provide evidence to show the assessment as incorrect. The assessor already has his or her appraisal on record. The Board of Review needs good reason to change an assessment. In order to increase your chances of a favorable review, consider providing and organizing good quality documentation to support the following questions: "What do you think your property is worth?" and "What are your opinions based on?"
Like the assessor, your sales comparisons should be based on similar properties. This includes but is not limited to: Sales from the same neighborhood, similar square footage, design, quality, floor plan, site size, utility, year built, etc. Be aware that no two properties are exactly alike.
Q. Can I appoint a representative to appeal on my behalf?
A. Yes. You must notify us who your representative is if you are not going to attend.
Q. How much time do I have to plead my case at the Board of Review?
A. About 15 minutes. It can sometimes be difficult to remain on this timetable, but if everyone comes prepared it helps.
Q. Can the Board of Review lower my assessment based on the Sale Price of my property?
A. No. Per State Law, the sale of your property cannot be the sole determining factor of the assessment of that property. Neither the assessor nor the Board of Review can raise or lower a property's Assessed Value solely on its Sale Price.
Q. Is the March Board of Review the only time during the year that I can appeal my Assessed and Taxable Value at Brownstown?
Q. What if I'm not satisfied with the Board of Review's decision?
A. You can continue your appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
Q. Is the Board of Review's decisions permanent?
A. Yes, with the exception of Poverty Appeals.
Q. How will I know the Board's Decision?
A. The Board of Review will probably not give the decision at the time of the hearing but the decision will be mailed to you by the second week of May.
Q. Can I appeal the Board's Decision?
A. Only those assessments reviewed by the Board can be appealed to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Their appeal deadline is June 30th.
Q. Where does the authority come from to levy taxes?
A. The authority of municipal governments to levy taxes arises from the State of Michigan Constitution. In 1896, the State Legislature passed the General Property Tax Act Law, which addressed taxation by property taxes and has since been amended many times. All property in the State of Michigan is taxable unless specifically exempted by law. An example of an exemption would be the Personal Property in your home, providing you are not operating a business there.
Q. If my assessment declines shouldn't my taxes decline?
A. Possibly. The Taxable Value cannot be higher than the Assessed Value, which is driven by the market. If the Assessed Value declines to a value less than the Taxable Value then the Taxable Value declines with it.
Q. I just purchased a new construction. How will the assessor determine my Assessed and Taxable Values?
A. By comparing your property to other similar properties.
Q. I just purchased an existing home. How will this affect my Taxes?
A. The State Equalized Value in the year of purchase will become the following years Taxable Value. The Millage Rate is applied to the Taxable Value to calculate taxes. If the following years Taxable Value is higher than the current year, taxes will increase.
Q. Is the recent Sale Price of my property used to determine my taxes?
A. >No. This practice is called "following sales" and is both unconstitutional and illegal. A method of Mass Appraising is incorporated that combines a Cost Approach for each property that works in conjunction with Sales Data from an annual 2 - 3 year sales study.
Q. My True Cash Value (Market Value) and consequently my State Equalized Value has declined so why did my taxes go up?
A. The most common two reasons are: 1) Additional improvements were made to the property that added value. 2) The Taxable Value of your property is still lower than your State Equalized Value.
Q. What is the "Headlee Amendment" and "Proposal A" and how do they affect my taxes?
A-1. The Headlee Amendment requires that when growth on an existing property is greater than inflation (CPI - Consumer Price Index is the indicator) the local government must "roll back" its maximum authorized Millage Rate so that the increase in property tax revenue caused by growth does not exceed inflation.
A-2. Proposal A introduced the "Taxable Value". The Taxable Value on an individual parcel cannot annually increase by more than the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is less, unless the property is sold or transferred as defined by law. The difference between Assessed Value and Taxable Value when a property is sold or transferred is known as the "Uncapped Value".
Eg: SEV = $150,000 Taxable Value = $130,000
Market + 8% CPI + 3%
Even though the Market Value of this property increased by 8% the Taxable Value that your taxes are based upon can only increase by 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
Q. Does Brownstown Township offer Property Tax Relief for poverty stricken citizens?
A. For seniors on a fixed income and others who may be experiencing difficulty in paying their property taxes, there may be help. There are Poverty Guidelines and Eligibility Requirements that can be obtained by contacting the Assessing Office.
Under the poverty guidelines, you can receive partial relief from the Board of Review. To qualify, you must first fill out the hardship application in its entirety, and provide the Income Tax information for all persons living in the home. A poverty claim can only be considered on a person's principal residence.
You must also provide a Homestead Property Tax Credit form (MI-1040CR), even it you are not required to file income tax forms.
*Note: Poverty exemptions are not permanent and must be filed for every year you are eligible.
Q. Does the township keep copies of deeds?
A. No. If your deed has been recorded you can contact the Wayne County Register of Deeds at 313-224-5850.
Q. Does the township keep copies of surveys?
A. No. Mortgage Surveys are typically requested by and kept by lenders and borrowers.
Q. Does the Assessing Office keep Condominium Master Deeds and By-Laws available for review?
Q. Is there a fee for copies of records in the assessing office?
A. Yes. $1.00 for Record Cards (field sheets) and $0.50 per page for others.