Alissa Shelton, executive director of Brick + Beam Detroit, knows a thing or two about appealing property tax assessments in Michigan, having gone through the process herself.
“I have a small commercial property in Hamtramck. When we got our tax bill [the first year], it was four or five times as much as the value of what we paid for the building,” says Shelton.
“This process is complicated. But once you go through the process, if it is lowered, that’s a lifetime of savings.” - Alissa Shelton, Brick + Beam Detroit
That’s not legal in Michigan. In the state, the assessed value of a property cannot exceed 50 percent of the market value. But for moments like this, the state has laid out an appeals process for residents across the state.
So, Shelton appealed to Hamtramck’s Board of Review but was denied. Then she moved on to the next and final step in the state’s tax assessment appeal process, the Michigan Tax Tribunal. There, she won.
Now, Shelton’s non-profit, a community for homeowners that offers online resources and in-person workshops, will team up with other area agencies to launch a series of free workshops that will help residents better-understand their property tax assessments.
Click on the player above to hear an interview with Brick + Beam’s executive director about the workshops and the complexity of property tax assessments.
The workshops begin Tuesday, Jan. 28. at the Detroit Public Library. The full schedule by region is:
- Central Detroit: Tues, Jan 28 2020 @ 5pm | Detroit Public Library Main Branch
- Westside: Sat, Feb 1, 2020 @ 10am | Design Center in a Box (Old Redford)
- Eastside: Sat, Feb 8, 2020 @ 9:30am | Eastside Community Network
- Highland Park/Hamtramck: Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 5:30p | Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe
Property owners and prospective homeowners interested in attending can register here.
Assessments help determine what homeowners end up paying in property taxes. If they’re too high, then residents end up paying more than their fair share of property taxes.
This is an ongoing problem in Detroit. Investigations by the Detroit News have found that the city over-assessed homes by hundreds of millions of dollars after the recession, and that the problem has not been fully resolved. That’s why it’s helpful for residents to understand their own assessments, to a make sure they’re being assessed fairly.
At the workshops, Shelton says participants will be shown how to read their assessments by learning how they are calculated and what all the different terms mean. Participants will also be taught some steps they can take to possibly change their property tax bills. United Community Housing Coalition will go over exemptions for principal residents, low-income people and more.
Shelton hopes the workshops will offer clarity in a confusing process.
“This process is complicated,” says Shelton. “But once you go through the process, if it is lowered, that’s a lifetime of savings because your property taxes in Michigan are actually capped so they can’t raise more than the inflation rate each year, or 5 percent, whichever is lower.”
Editor’s Note: In the audio interview Shelton mentions that Detroit Justice Center will be onsite at the workshops to sign residents up who are seeking assistance with appeals. That will no longer be the case.