Kevin Keller, MAAO, Equalization Director
The process of County Equalization is mandated by Section 211.34 of the General Property Tax Act of the State of Michigan, which states in part that the County Board of Commissioners shall examine the assessment rolls of the townships and cities each year and ascertain whether each class of real and personal property in the township or city has been equally and uniformly assessed at an average level of 50% of true cash value.
The General Property Tax Act goes on to state that the County Board of Commissioners of a County shall establish and maintain a department to survey assessments and assist the Board of Commissioners in the matter of equalization of assessments. The department may furnish assistance to local assessing officers in the performance of duties including development and maintenance of accurate property descriptions, the discovery, listing, and valuation of properties for tax purposes, and the development and use of uniform valuation standards and techniques for the assessment of property.
In addition to the above statutory duties, the Montmorency County Equalization Department is charged with several other vital duties. Those include maintaining and updating the assessment rolls for several Townships in the County, maintaining the county tax maps utilizing the Geographic Information System (GIS). Maintenance of accurate tax maps are an essential part of the Equalization Departments duties. (Click the link to read more and see what a GIS generated tax map looks like).
Equalization also assigns and maintains the Property addressing system for Montmorency County. This process includes not only assigning all of the property addresses for existing parcels before a new building can be built, it also involves assigning road names, as needed, for any new developments in the county. Accurate property address information is absolutely vital for all 911 emergency services (fire, public safety, ambulance, etc.), mail and parcel delivery, utilities (phone, gas, electric), and a variety of other services.
Purpose of Equalization
The equalization process sets the property tax base for the county and helps to ensure that property taxes are levied in a fair and equitable manner.
Each year, under guidelines established by the State Tax Commission, the County Equalization Department works with the township assessors to assure proper equalized values for real and personal property throughout the County.
The Equalization Department's main purpose is to correct the inequities that may occur between the local units of government as a result of under or over assessment of a property class. The Equalization Department does not determine individual assessments; that is the sole responsibility of the local assessor. The equalization process is accomplished using sales and appraisal studies performed on individual property classes in each township and city throughout the County.
The results of these sales and appraisal studies are used to determine the true cash value of each property class (residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, developmental, timber cut over, and all classes of personal property). The Department's equalization studies are compared to the corresponding property class totals as determined by the assessor for each township and city. If necessary, the Department applies a "County Equalization Factor" to those classes that have an "average level" of assessment above or below 50% of true cash value.
Q. What is Taxable Value?
The Taxable Value is the lower of the State Equalized Value or the capped value. The taxable value is then multiplied by the millage rate to produces the amount of tax dollars. The taxable value was created upon the passage of Proposal A, by the electorate in 1994.
Q. What is State Equalized Value (SEV)?
The State Equalized Value is the result of the county equalized value being subject to review by the Michigan State Tax Commission. The Tax Commission may add to, subtract from, or approve the county equalized value as submitted. Upon their action, it becomes the State Equalized Value.
Q. What is the Assessed Value?
The assessed value is the estimate of one-half of fair market value, which is calculated by the local unit of government's assessing department. The Michigan State Constitution requires the assessed value be set at this level.
Q. What is the County Equalized Value?
The assessed value as placed by the local assessing department is reviewed by the county equalization department. The equalization department may add to, subtract from, or approve it as submitted. Upon their action, it becomes the county equalized value.
Q. Am I allowed to view my appraisal records?
YES! Most department records are considered public record, and are open for inspection during normal business hours.
Q. What if I am not satisfied with the Board of Review decision on my appeal?
You have the right to file an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal. This appeal must be filed with the Tribunal on or before June 30th of the current year, using the following address:
Michigan Tax Tribunal
1033 S. Washington
P.O. Box 30232
Lansing, Mi., 48909
Telephone Number: 1-517-334-6521
Q. What is the Capped Value?
The taxable value can increase from year to year by 5.0% or the amount of the consumer price index, whichever is less. Additions or losses to the property are also taken into consideration. The formula is the previous taxable value, minus losses, x 1.05 % or the consumer price index, whichever is less, plus any additions = Capped Value
Q. What if I am unhappy with the assessed value or taxable value on my property, what can I do about it?
The first thing you should do is talk to your local Assessor about the valuation on your parcel. Check the appraisal records to make sure all components of the property are correct. If you wish to proceed at this point, you may lodge an appeal with your local March Board of Review. The Board of Review is set up under the Michigan General Property Tax Law. The Board consists of three, six or nine members, appointed by the Township Supervisor. The Board of Review will hear your appeal, and will make a decision using their best judgment.
Q. What if I'm out of town during the March Board of Review, how can I lodge an appeal?
You may send a person to represent you, or you may file an appeal to the Board of Review by letter. Please include the reason for appeal, your parcel number and telephone number. The Board of Review will conduct an appeal review for you, and notify you of their decision by first class mail.
Q. When are the assessed values for each parcel determined?
Known as tax day throughout the state, December 31 is the date used, taking into consideration the status of the property and the economic conditions of the area.
Q. What authority does the Township have in order to place a value on my property for property tax purposes?
This is a mandate of Public Act 206 of 1893 as amended, also known as the Michigan General Property Tax Law.
Homestead & Qualified Agricultural Property
Property owners may declare their principal residence as a homestead and exempt the property from 18 mills of school operating tax. In order to qualify as a homestead property, the property must be occupied as a homestead by May 1 of the first year claimed. Partial homestead exemptions are also available for multi-family dwellings. The 18 mill school operating tax exemption also extends to agricultural classed property. Non-agricultural classed property devoted primarily to agricultural uses may also be eligible for the exemption. Please contact your Township assessors’ office or the county Equalization office for additional information regarding homestead, qualified agricultural and qualified forest exemptions.
In the year following a sale or transfer of ownership of real estate, the transferred property's state equalized value becomes relevant. When a transfer of ownership occurs, statutes require the removing of the value cap and the adjustment of the taxable value to that of the following year's state equalized value. This means that the taxable value will equal the state equalized value in the year following the transfer of ownership. It is important to note that the assessor does not utilize 50% of the property's selling price as the new SEV. The assessor is precluded from doing so by state statute. This is the most common misconception regarding the uncapping of taxable values. The following year's SEV is determined by the same method as if the property had not transferred.
Equalization Reports and Other Information
Consumer Price Index
District MapEqualization Report 2016 Updated 5/26/16
School District Report 2016
Montmorency County Millage Rates 2015
Parcel Count Report 2016
Taxable Value Trend from 2000 until Present
Total Taxable and Assessed Values for Montmorency County Townships 2016
State of Michigan Forms
Homestead Exemption (form 2368)
Request to Rescind Homestead Exemption ( form 2602)
Claim for Farmland Exemption from Some School Operating Taxes (form 2599)
Montmorency County Forms
Application for New Address Packet
Instructions for Obtaining an Address for a Building Permit
Mailing Address Change Policy
Mailing Address Change Form