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How Do Property Taxes Work in Michigan?

For those looking to invest in property—whether turnkey, rental, reno and flip, or private—understanding how property taxes work in Michigan can be the difference between standing in hot water and swimming in cash flow. Each state has its own rules and regulations for determining property taxes, and while they may be similar in some cases, comprehending the state-specific taxes is important for anyone looking to relocate or invest in the area.

Property taxes can be confusing for even the most experienced investor. But, with some simple research, you can be well on your way to understanding these collective tariffs. Of course, if you still find yourself befuddled, there are plenty of industry professionals available to help you wade through the waters of Michigan’s property taxes.

SEV Rates

To calculate property taxes, each city or township will evaluate and assess each home individually. By doing so, the assessor is able to determine the value of the home by comparing the property to housing trends occurring in the area. Once this is decided upon, the assessor will assign a number to your home which is half of the proposed value of your home. This is referred to as the State Equalized Value, or SEV.

These numbers are not the end-all, be-all for your home value. They are merely an estimate and are not a factual representation of what your home can sell for when placed on the market. More often than not, these figures are relatively close to the average market rate, but in some cases, can be quite far off. They also do not account for alterations, updates, or modifications you have made to a property.

This is the number you will be taxed on for the first year you own the home.

Taxable Value

On the tax statement, there will be a secondary number in addition to the SEV. This is referred to as the taxable value of your property and, other than the first year, will be the number you are taxed by. Taxable values are restricted by a CAP rate. What does this mean for property owners? The city/town is only allowed to raise your owed taxes by the inflation rate, not by the appreciation value. Regardless of how much your property increases in value, the taxes can only be raised by the current market inflation value.

Millage Rates

Taxable value is essentially half of the approximate value of the property blended with the current millage rate. A millage rate is voted on by the city and residents and can vary by area and year. In fact, within one county, each school district can have a different proposed millage rate. These funds are put toward things like schools and other city-beneficial projects. The state has its own millage rate. This is added to the millage rate proposed by the city the property resides in. The state will determine the total tax increment by multiplying the taxable value by the sum of the state and local millage rates combined.

Different Rates

In addition to taxable millage rates being different between school districts, whether the property is exempt as a primary residence or not can have an effect on the millage rates owed. Homeowners who claim a property as their primary residence are released from having to pay the first eighteen mills due to a city/county for school taxes

This can make understanding millage and taxable rates difficult to the uninformed investor or home buyer, as homes within the same jurisdiction can have a wide range of taxable rates.

Tax Mistakes

Making a tax mistake in Michigan can be extremely detrimental for a property owner, so it is important to make sure you understand the property tax laws and regulations. If you’re unsure in any capacity, seek out an experienced professional who can help you through the process and ensure you are paying the correct amount at the correct time.

In the state of Michigan, anyone who runs delinquent on their property taxes faces relinquishing their property to the county treasurer. If property taxes are not paid in full, the governmental entity in the property’s residency area can foreclose on the property, taking ownership. Once the entity has garnered ownership, the property then enters a tax sale for the treasurer’s office to recoup the missing taxes.

This doesn’t occur overnight, however. It is essentially a two-step process that gives the property owner sufficient time to settle their debt before losing the asset as repayment. Once a home enters the second year of non-payment of property taxes, the property owner is issued notice of a tax forfeiture. A forfeiture is not a total loss of the property, however. In fact, the process allows the owner approximately a year to repay the missed taxes before the foreclose procedure begins.

Property taxes are a requirement regardless of whether you are purchasing a property for investment purposes or as a primary residence. It’s just part of the deal that you cannot bypass. Protect yourself by being familiar with the property tax laws in the area which you are looking to purchase. If all else fails, there are always experienced professionals that are able to help you understand Michigan’s property tax laws and requirements.

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