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Press Release


Contact:

Derek Melot
MAC
melot@micounties.org
(517) 375-0883

Jenn Fiedler
MTA
jenn@michigantownships.org
(517) 321-6467

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073
mbach@mml.org; www.mml.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2016

'Dark Stores' Bill Restores Fairness to Property Assessments

 

LANSING Michigan has taken the first step to repairing a problem in its property tax system that had given a special advantage to corporate retailers, representatives from three local government associations said today.

This morning, the House Tax Policy Committee reported House Bill 5578, sponsored by Rep. David Maturen, which would put an end to the detrimental “Dark Stores” assessment theory by requiring that commercial property be assessed at its “highest and best use.”

Michigan has a distorted, unbalanced property tax system as a result of the “Dark Stores” theory. For several years, the Michigan Tax Tribunal has allowed Big Box retailers such as Home Depot and Target to be valued based on sales of similarly sized properties that are vacant, abandoned or now used for a different purpose―leading to huge cuts in their property taxes, and giving them a huge advantage over small businesses in their community.

HB 5578 would end this unfair practice by putting traditional sound appraisal standards into law, creating a fair, equitable system for resolving disputes. The bill also prevents the inappropriate use of deed restrictions as an unreasonable sales comparison during an appeal.

“Rep. Maturen’s bill creates a level playing field and requires all taxpayers to be treated fairly,” said Judy Allen, director of government relations for the Michigan Townships Association (MTA). “Contrary to arguments that these properties are over-assessed, this practice is the result of large, often out-of-state corporations exploiting a faulty assessing theory.”

“Fairness must be at the heart of our property tax system,” said Steve Currie, deputy director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC). “Rep. Maturen drew on his experience as a county commissioner and as an appraiser to identify a solution that ensures all three appraisal methods are being used.”

“We appreciate Rep. Maturen's leadership and expertise on this assessment issue,” said Chris Hackbarth, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League (MML). “HB 5578 is a fair and equitable solution to a complex issue facing our communities.”

HB 5578 now moves to the full House of Representatives, where MTA, MAC, MML and other groups are pushing for a quick vote.

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.

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