(Formally Homestead Property Tax Exemption)
Legislative changes to the Property Tax Law address the issue of principal residence exemptions held by property owners not properly qualified for the exemption. Public Act 105 of 2003 was signed by the Governor on July 24, 2003 and took immediate effect.
View the complete text of PA 105 (MCL 211.7cc). (State of Michigan Legislature Website)
Beginning November 1, 2003 St Joseph County began a County-wide audit of existing principal residence exemptions.
What qualifies a property for the Principal Residence Exemption?
1). The property must be owned and occupied as the owner’s principal residence. The only exception to this provision is for those vacant parcels adjoining the property owner’s principal residence.
2). The property owner must own, occupy and maintain the property as their principal residence on or before May 1 of the year preceding the tax bill mailing. For example, to qualify for the 18 mill reduction on the December 1, 2008 tax bill, the property owner had to own and occupy the dwelling on or before May 1, 2008.
3). The taxpayer(s) receiving an exemption must not have another, similar exemption in this or any other State.
What factors are considered as evidence of Michigan Principal Residency?
- Are you a Michigan resident and is Michigan your permanent home?
- Do you file a Michigan Income Tax Return?
- Is the address on last year’s Michigan income tax return the same address receiving the exemption?
- Do you have a Michigan Driver’s License?
- Does your Michigan Driver’s License identify your address as the same address receiving the principal residence exemption?
- Are you registered to vote at the address receiving the exemption?
- Where do your children attend school?
- Do you receive a similar property tax exemption or credit elsewhere in Michigan or any other place outside Michigan?
- Do you have a business on the property?
Property owners identified as receiving an exemption without qualification are required to pay the 18 mill levy for the current year and up to three preceding years, with interest and penalties applied from the date the taxes were last payable without interest or penalty.
How will the County identify the properties they will audit?
Properties will be identified based on information provided by the State of Michigan , as well as by an evaluation of each property’s current qualification factors.
Will I be notified if one or more of my properties are part of the County’s audit?
If the cursory review of the property’s exemption qualifications is insufficient to validate the exemption, the property owner(s) will receive notification that the property is being audited. In most cases a questionnaire will be part of the notification mailing. The questionnaire must be completed by the property owner(s) and returned to the County by the date specified on the questionnaire. Failure to return the form may result in the denial of the exemption.
How long will the audit of my property(s) take?
Determining how long it might take to complete any given property’s qualifications is uncertain. However, we anticipate that the vast majority of the determinations can be accomplished within thirty days of receipt of the completed questionnaire. Of course the more complex the circumstances the greater the time required to validate qualification.
Will I receive notification of my property(s) audit findings?
Regardless of the outcome, every property owner receiving a notice of audit will receive notification of the findings. If it is determined that the property does not qualify for exemption, or is entitled to a partial exemption, the notice will also explain the reason(s) for the denial or reduction to the exemption and your rights to appeal the County decision to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, Small Claims Division.
Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
Contact the St Joseph County Land Resource Centre:
Phone: (269) 467-5576
Fax: (269) 467-5672