The Board of Review
What are your appeal rights?
What is the Board of Review? Since 1893, the Board of Review (BOR) is a local committee of electors from within a specific community. The three, six or nine BOR members are appointed to two-year terms by the city council or township board to receive and hear taxpayer appeals of the annual assessment roll. They are local taxpayers, property owners and peers of the average citizen who appear before them. The Michigan State Tax Commission has stated, “A Board of Review is not the assessor and the assessor is not the Board of Review. Every citizen who appears before the Board of Review is in fact challenging a decision of the assessor and it is the Board of Review’s responsibility to make an independent judgment based on the facts and on law.” Every property owner should therefore review their annual Notice of Assessment, Taxable Valuation and Property Classification for the exact dates and times of their local Board of Review. A property owner may also contact their local assessor for the same information.
The Board of Review is required by state law to meet in March of each year to hear the various appeals for that specific assessment and tax year. The BOR may also meet in July and December; however, the type of appeals the board hears is dependent upon the specific meeting of the BOR. As defined in the General Property Tax Act and explained by the State Tax Commission, a property owner or their authorized agent may appeal certain items to the March Board of Review. These topics include the current year assessed value, current year tentative taxable value, current year property classification and current year hardship/poverty exemption for those who may qualify. The July or December Board of Review may also only hear certain appeal items. These summer or winter topics also include current year hardship/poverty exemptions. However, the July or December BOR may also review assessor denials of qualified agricultural exemptions or principal residence exemptions that were not on the current or immediately preceding three assessment rolls. The Board of Review’s jurisdiction is therefore specific as to time of year and type of appeal. In general, valuation appeals may only be heard in March. Qualified Ag denials and principal residence exemption matters are handled in July or December. While hardship/poverty appeals may only be made once in a calendar year, any of the March, July or December sessions may hear such issues.
While state law describes the Board of Review sessions, appeals to the local BOR are designed so that the average person may accomplish it. In a typical local unit of government, a property owner wishing to appeal a value would contact the specific local unit to obtain an appointment. At the designated time, the citizen would have the opportunity to address the members of the BOR and explain why the owner believes that the assessment or other issues are incorrect. Usually these appointments are for 10 to 15 minutes so having a statement prepared is always a good idea. The owner should have some type of evidence to present to the BOR to support the owner’s opinion of value. Typical types of supporting materials are recent appraisals by a licensed appraiser or known sales of comparable properties in the local real estate market as the rule in assessing is that like properties are valued alike. While no two properties are exactly the same, a comparison of similar properties is key to a successful appeal. A property owner may have their attorney or some other person represent them, but such representation is the person’s choice and certainly not a requirement or expectation.
A short time after the adjournment of the local BOR, the assessing office will forward a written copy of the Board of Review’s decision. Whatever the decision of the BOR, should a property owner not be satisfied, the decision form will provide information on further appeal rights to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.