University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Michigan local leaders say property tax appeals are common, disagree with dark stores assessing

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October 2016

Abstract

The issue of property tax appeals has been increasingly important in Michigan recently as “big box” stores (e.g. Lowe’s, Costco, etc.) have been able to significantly decrease their taxes by arguing property assessments should be based on the value of vacant comparable buildings rather than on their “highest and best use.” This is known as “dark stores” assessing, which has resulted in significant cuts in property tax revenue for some local governments. This report presents Michigan local government leaders’ views on the impact of tax assessment appeals—for big box stores and other types of property—in their jurisdictions, including effects on local fiscal health. It also provides local leaders’ opinions on decisions made by the Michigan Tax Tribunal, including about “dark stores” appeals policies. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the Spring
2016 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS).

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy