Communities across Michigan, for many years, have fought in court to keep property taxes on the rolls with the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The more well-known cases of big-name retailers taking small rural communities to court to lower their stores’ taxable value have hurt the amount of services cities, townships, and villages can provide. There have been attempts to close legal loopholes in the past: but to little or no success. Recently Senator Ed McBroom, proposed new legislation to address the issue.
As communities like Houghton, are continuing their fight against big box stores seeking lower taxes. Some legislators in Lansing are fighting back too. Senator Ed McBroom, who represents most of the Upper Peninsula, introduced two bills, SB 19 and 20. Both intend to bring more cases before local courts, rather than the Michigan State Tax Tribunal.
“Myself, and the whole U.P. delegation have been arguing for years with everyone else that we need to fix this Dark Store loophole. We’ve had several attempts at it but have never been successful. Removing these large-scale, complex tax cases from the tribunal and bringing them back to our circuit courts, is something that is going to be better for everybody. Our communities, businesses, large and small, and really bring the tribunal back to what it was supposed to be dealing with. Which are much smaller property cases. Not these large complex ones. And really take a load off of them as well. So So I think its a win-win-win, for all of three of the major considerations.” – Senator Ed McBroom
The proposed bills could add more cases to local courts. And shift larger cases away from the tax tribunal. McBroom believes that taking a different approach than past Tax Tribunal proposals, will in the end help communities. Especially in rural areas.
“This is an additional bit of law and practice they would under take. I think they can handle it. But clearly they’re bogging down the tax tribunal. We’re having difficulty even finding people who even want to be judges on the tribunal anymore. And those that we do don’t necessarily have an extensive legal training to handle that obligation. So, circuit court judges, elected by the people, have certain requirements on them for qualifications. And I think they’re much more apt to handle these cases. In a way that’s fair to everyone.” – Senator Ed McBroom
McBroom says that he and others in Lansing are working toward finding viable solutions that benefit communities, and business equally. He adds that the issues appears to be bi partisan. And he hopes to gain support from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The proposed bills are referred to the committee on Finance, Insurance and Consumer Protection. You can find links to the proposed legislation here and here.