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Glossary of Terms
The Michigan Tax Tribunal is a tax court and not a regulatory agency. As a tax court, there are legal terms used to describe the types of appeals filed at the Tribunal and the processing of those appeals for hearing and decision. Legal terms can be confusing. To facilitate your understanding of the Tribunal and our process, we are providing the following GLOSSARY of common legal terms utilized at the Tribunal.
Adjourned - A party may request that a scheduled hearing be adjourned (i.e., postponed) and rescheduled. If the request is timely and the requesting party has shown good cause to justify the granting of the request, the Tribunal will enter an order adjourning the hearing. The parties must, however, appear at the hearing, if the Order has not been received by the parties prior to the date of the hearing and the Tribunal has not telephonically contacted the parties to indicate that the request has been granted.
Ad Valorem - The tax based on the value of the item being taxed. For example, an ad valorem property tax is a tax based on the value of property.
Answer Form - The form accessed, printed, and served by Respondent in response to the petition.
Appeal - An appeal is a request for review of a decision rendered by an agency. See MCL 205.731.
Agencies include, but are not limited to, a local unit of government, a local board of review, an assessor, a county equalization department, a local treasurer, the Michigan State Tax Commission, and the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Assessed Value - Generally the same as state equalized value unless an equalization factor other than 50% has been applied by the county in which the property is located or the State.
Your property's assessment change notice will indicate your property's state equalized and assessed values and the amounts those values have increased over the previous tax year's state equalized and assessed values.
Authorized Representative - The person or firm designated by a party to represent that party throughout the appeal process, including the hearing.
Consent Judgment - A final decision rendered by a Tribunal member based on a stipulation (a written agreement) submitted by the parties and found to be acceptable by the Tribunal.
Contiguous - Adjoining (i.e., next to each other). Parcels are generally not considered to be contiguous if they are separated by a road.
Counsel Conference - The counsel conference is a required meeting in a property tax matter appeal between the parties after the filing of an appeal to discuss the basis of the appeal, known facts and evidence in support of the parties' separate contentions, the possibility of settlement, and the exchange of other evidence that may aid in the disposition of the appeal. See TTR 250.
Counsel Conference Summary - The counsel conference summary is a document filed by the petitioner in a property tax matter appeal summarizing the parties' discussions. At a minimum, the summary must include (i) in a property tax matter appeal, "a good faith estimate of the true cash value of the subject property," and (ii) the identity of all discoverable evidence or documents "known to be in the possession of control of the parties." See TTR 250.
Default - When a party fails to comply with a Tribunal rule or order (i.e., not completely filling in the petition).
Default Hearing - A hearing at which the defaulted party is prohibited from providing any testimony or documentary evidence.
Discovery - Discovery is a process used by parties to obtain information or documents to aid in the preparation of an appeal for hearing.
The primary discovery devices are interrogatories, depositions, requests for admission, and requests for production. Interrogatories are written questions. See TTR 255. Depositions are oral examinations of witnesses conducted by the parties and not the court. See TTR 257. Requests for admission are written statements of proposed fact that the opposing party is required to either admit or deny and explain the basis of the denial. See Occidental Dev LLC v Van Buren Twp, MTT Docket No. 292745 (March 4, 2004). Requests for production are written requests to produce identified documents. See TTR 260.
Discovery can be accomplished through an informal exchange of information and documents between the parties. Discovery can also be accomplished formally as required by orders of the court when the parties are unable or refuse to exchange information or documents. See also TTR 264.
Formal discovery is prohibited in the Small Claims Division except by leave of the Tribunal. See TTR 111(3).
Formal discovery is permitted in the Entire Tribunal. However, formal discovery in the Entire Tribunal "shall not be conducted after the completion of the prehearing conference, unless otherwise ordered by the tribunal." See TTR 270(10).
Dismissal - A dismissal is the termination of an appeal without further hearing.
Appeals can be dismissed because the appeal was not timely filed or, if required, the petitioner did not protest the property's assessed or taxable values to a local board of review. Appeals can also be dismissed at the request of the parties or if the petitioner fails to comply with a Tribunal rule or order. See TTR 247 and 320.
Dispositive Motions - A dispositive motion is a motion (i.e., written request) asking the Tribunal to resolve an appeal through summary disposition. The grounds for summary disposition can be found at Rule 2.116 of the Michigan Court Rules and include, but are not limited to lack of jurisdiction; lack of standing; another action has been initiated between the same parties involving the same claim; the claim is barred because of prior judgment, statute of limitations, statute of frauds, or assignment or other disposition of the claim before commencement of the appeal; the opposing party has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted; the opposing party has failed to state a valid defense to the claim asserted; and there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
The Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order establishes the date for the filing and exchange of dispositive motions to be filed and exchanged after the conducting of the prehearing conference.
Docket Number - The number used by the Tribunal to track the appeal.
Documentary Evidence - Documentary evidence is written evidence that a party intends to offer in support of that party's contentions. Documentary evidence is required to be filed with the Tribunal and exchanged (i.e., given) to the opposing 21 days in advance of the scheduled hearing. If the documentary evidence is not filed and exchanged at least 21 days in advance of the scheduled hearing, it may be exclude (i.e., not considered). See TTR 342.
Entire Tribunal - The formal division of the Tribunal. Hearings are held in Lansing before a Tribunal Member.
Exceptions - Parties have 20 days from date of entry of a Proposed Opinion and Judgment to file exceptions objecting to the Proposed Opinion and Judgment and asking the Tribunal to either modify the Proposed Opinion and Judgment or grant a rehearing. The exceptions must be in writing and must state the reasons (i.e., good cause) for modifying the Proposed Opinion and Judgment or granting a rehearing. The reasons are, however, limited to the Tribunal's treatment of the evidence submitted prior to or at the hearing and any matter addressed in the Proposed Opinion and Judgment.
A copy of a party's written exceptions must be sent to the opposing party.
There is no fee for the filing of exceptions.
Exhibit and Witness Lists - An exhibit list is a listing of all documents or other tangible items (i.e., photographs, etc.) to be offered by a party for admission as evidence in support of that party's contentions. A document or other tangible item not disclosed on the exhibit list will not be admitted into evidence, even though admissible, except upon a finding of good cause by the Tribunal.
A witness list is a listing of all people a party intends to call to provide testimony in support of that party's contentions. The list must include the name, title, and address of each person being called as a witness and brief summary of the subject matter of the testimony of that witness. A person not disclosed on the witness list will not be permitted to testify except upon a finding of good cause by the Tribunal. See also TTR 283(3).
The Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order establishes the date for the filing and exchange of exhibit and witness lists.
Fillable petition - The Small Claims petition form from the Tribunal's web site that is filled out and submitted to the Tribunal with original signature.
Final Opinion and Judgment - A Final Opinion and Judgment is the Tribunal's last action that settles the rights of the parties and disposes of all issues presented by an appeal.
The decision rendered by a Tribunal member is a Final Opinion and Judgment.
The parties may file a motion for reconsideration under MCL 205.752 and MCR 2.119 or appeal the Final Opinion and Judgment to the Michigan Court of Appeals, as provided by MCL 205.753 and the Michigan Rules of Court.
Hearing - A hearing is a proceeding conducted by the court during which the affected parties present testimony and evidence in support of their separate contentions.
Hearings in the Tribunal's Small Claims Division may be conducted telephonically or in person and last approximately 30 minutes. The hearings will be conducted by a Tribunal member or hearing officer.
There are no differences between a telephonic or in-person hearing as the procedures for conducting telephonic and in-person hearings are the same. The Tribunal is, however, able to expedite the scheduling of telephonic hearings as the scheduling of in-person hearings depends on the availability of judges and hearing rooms and requires the scheduling of approximately eight to twelve in-person hearings for the same hearing location to conserve the Tribunal's limited financial resources.
In-person Small Claims property tax matter appeal hearings are required to be held in the county in which the property is located or an adjoining county.
In-person Small Claims non-property tax matter appeal hearings are held in the Tribunal's Dimondale office.
Although parties are entitled to record a Tribunal hearing as long as the recording does not interfere with the conducting of the hearing, there is no formal record of a Small Claims hearing, as provided by MCL 205.762 and TTR 305.
Hearings in the Entire Tribunal are in-person and conducted like hearings in local circuit courts. Entire Tribunal hearings can range in length from ½ day to two months or more. The majority of such hearings, however, are conducted over a five-day period. The hearings will be conducted by a Tribunal member or hearing officer.
Entire Tribunal hearings are held in the Tribunal's Dimondale office.
There is a formal record of all Entire Tribunal hearings.
The failure of the petitioner to appear at a scheduled Small Claims or Entire Tribunal hearing will result in the dismissal of the appeal. The failure of the respondent to appear at a scheduled Small Claims or Entire Tribunal hearing will result in the conducting of a default hearing. See TTR 247.
Hearing Officer - A hearing officer is an administrative law judge that has been appointed by the Tribunal to conduct hearings in either the Tribunal's Small Claims Division or Entire Tribunal. A hearing officer has no authority to render a final decision in an appeal pending before the Tribunal.
In pro per - Parties representing themselves.
Jurisdiction - The Tribunal's authority to hear certain types of appeals.
Motion - A written request filed by a party or the parties requesting the Tribunal to take certain action. A $50.00 fee is required for the filing of a motion unless the appeal is a Valuation only appeal and the property has a principal residence exemption of at least 50% for the tax year(s) at issue.
Non-Property Tax Appeal - A non-property tax matter appeal is an appeal relating to the levying of a tax assessment not related to property issued by the Michigan Department of Treasury or a local unit of government. Non-property tax matter appeals include, but are not limited to, appeals relating to personal income taxes; sales, use, and withholding taxes; single business taxes; corporate officer liability issues; motor fuel refund issues; and cigarette taxes. See TTR 101(j).
Non-Property Tax Appeals - Appeals of assessments issued by the Michigan Department of Treasury for individual income tax; single business tax; sales, use and withholding taxes; motor fuel refunds; and corporate officer liability issues.
Notice of Hearing - A Notice of Hearing is a document sent by the Tribunal to the parties or their authorized representatives (i.e., attorney or agent) informing the parties of the date, time, and location of their hearing.
The notice of hearing also provides information regarding the withdrawal or settlement of the appeal, the requirement to file and exchange documentary evidence at least 21 days in advance of the scheduled hearing, the filing of requests to adjourn the hearing or have the hearing heard "on the file," the petitioner's burden of proof, the automatic inclusion of subsequent tax years in certain property tax matter appeals, and special accommodations for persons with disabilities.
On the File - If a party is unable to attend a scheduled hearing, a party can request in writing that the Tribunal hear the appeal "on the file." The written request must be submitted prior to the date of the hearing.
If an appeal is heard "on the file," the presiding judge will conduct the hearing and take the testimony of the opposing party and then render a decision based on that testimony and both parties' documentary evidence.
Order - A written directive issued by the Tribunal either granting or denying a party's request or, more appropriate, motion or requiring a party or the parties to take certain action.
Party - The petitioner or respondent.
Petition Form - The form required to initiate a new Small Claims appeal. Petitions forms are available on this website.
Petitioner - The person or entity that files the appeal with the Tribunal.
Prehearing Conference - A prehearing conference is a proceeding conducted by the Tribunal to discuss the status of an appeal and schedule the appeal for hearing. Prehearing conferences may be conducted telephonically or in-person and last approximately 45 minutes.
In-person prehearing conferences are conducted at the Tribunal's Dimondale office.
The presiding judge at a prehearing conference will be a Tribunal member or hearing officer.
Prehearing General Call - A prehearing general call is a listing of property tax matter appeals that are ready for the scheduling of a prehearing conference. An appeal is generally ready for the scheduling of a prehearing conference after the petition and answer have been filed and the parties have had an opportunity to conduct a counsel conference. See TTR 250 and TTR 270.
The prehearing general call will provide dates for the filing and exchange of valuation disclosures and prehearing statements.
Parties may request an extension of time for the filing and exchange of valuation disclosures and prehearing statements, as provided by Tribunal Notice 2005-9.
Once the parties have filed their valuation disclosures and prehearing statements, the Tribunal will schedule the appeal for a telephonic or in-person prehearing conference.
Non-property tax matter appeals will be scheduled for a prehearing conference in a scheduling order submitted by the parties.
Principal Residence Exemptions - Given to the property that is the primary residence of the property owner.
Proof of Service - A proof of service is a document filed as evidence that a pleading (i.e., petition or answer) or other document (i.e., motion, response to a motion, etc.) has been served (i.e., given) to all other parties. See TTR 208 and 210. A proof of service must be filed with the pleading or other document and should indicate the:
Manner of Service:
By first class mail or personal delivery.
Time of Service:
The time the pleading or document was placed in the mail or personally delivered.
Date of Service:
The date the pleading or document was placed in the mail or personally delivered.
Place of Service:
The name and address of the person or office served. In a non-property tax matter, the person or office served would be the State Treasurer.
Property Tax Matter Appeal - A property tax matter appeal is an appeal relating to the assessment of real or personal property under the state's property tax laws. Property tax matter appeals include, but are not limited to, appeals relating to the valuation of property, the levying of a special assessment, the uncapping of a property's taxable value, and the denial of a principal residence, qualified agricultural, or poverty exemption. See TTR 101(k).
Proposed Opinion and Judgment - A Proposed Opinion and Judgment is an interim action proposing to settle the rights of the parties and dispose of all issues presented by an appeal.
The decision rendered by a hearing officer will be a Proposed Opinion and Judgment.
The parties may file exceptions to a Proposed Opinion and Judgment within 20 days of the entry of the Proposed Opinion and Judgment asking the Tribunal to modify the decision based on the evidence previously submitted, or grant a rehearing. See MCL 205.762 and TTR 348.
The Tribunal, based on its review of the exceptions, if any, and the Proposed Opinion and Judgment, will adopt the Proposed Opinion and Judgment as a Final Opinion and Judgment, modify the Proposed Opinion and Judgment and adopt the Modified Opinion and Judgment as a Final Opinion and Judgment, order a rehearing or the submission of further evidence, or take such action as the Tribunal deems necessary.
Qualified Agricultural Exemptions - Exemptions given to property that is classified as agricultural property or property that is devoted primarily to agricultural use.
Rehearing - A proceeding or trial that is conducted by a Tribunal member after the issuance of a Proposed Opinion and Judgment based on exceptions (i.e., objections) filed by the parties or the Tribunal's review of the Proposed Opinion and Judgment.
Respondent - The entity or person that is required to respond to the appeal.
Response - A party may file a single response to a motion within 14 days of the service of the motion. See TTR 230. The response may include both an answer to the motion admitting or denying, with explanation, the allegations contained in the motion, and a brief in support. The answer and brief must be filed simultaneously.
Responsive Pleading - A responsive pleading is a motion requesting the Tribunal to take action in response to the filing of a petition such as dismissing the appeal, striking the petition, granting judgment in favor of the opposing party (i.e., summary disposition), etc. The order entered by the Tribunal granting or denying the motion will address the time frame for the filing of the answer, if required. See TTR 210 and 245.
Rule - One of the Tribunal's Rules of Practice and Procedure.
Scheduling Order - The scheduling order is used for setting dates for the processing of a non-property tax matter appeal for hearing. It is similar to the scheduling orders currently utilized in the processing of cases pending before the State's circuit courts. It is designed to replace the Tribunal's current non-property tax matter prehearing practice and provide parties with more control over the processing of their appeals.
Small Claims - The informal division of the Tribunal. Hearings are held telephonically or in-person in the county where the property is located or an adjoining county but within 100 miles of the property.
Special Assessments - Levied by a taxing authority (i.e., local unit of government) for public improvements (i.e., paving, curbs, gutters, street lights, water, sewer, etc.).
Special Assessment Appeal - A property tax appeal of a special assessment.
State Equalized Value - One half (1/2) of your property's true cash value.
State Equalized Value in Contention - The difference between what the petitioner and the respondent believe to be the property's state equalized value for each tax year at issue.
Stipulation - A written agreement between the parties proposing to resolve the assessment dispute. The agreement must be signed by all parties and provide the original and proposed values.
Stipulation of Facts - To expedite the conducting of hearings and reduce litigation costs, the Tribunal requires the parties to agree (i.e., stipulate) to all facts, all exhibits, and all witnesses that are not or should not be in dispute and submit a stipulation of facts.
The Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order establishes dates for the parties to exchange proposed stipulations of fact and file a final stipulation of facts. The parties are also required to include with the final stipulation of facts copies of the parties' proposed stipulations of facts and the parties' separate and specific written explanations as to why they did not agree to each fact or the admissibility of each exhibit or witness.
Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order - The Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order is an order issued after the completion of a prehearing conference. The order controls the processing of the appeal for hearing. The order summarizes the prehearing statements and prehearing conference discussions and sets dates for the completion of discovery, the filing and exchange of exhibit and witness lists, the filing and exchange of the required stipulation of facts, the filing of dispositive motions, and the commencement of the hearing.
Taxable Value - Is not the same as the property's true cash value. It is the value used to calculate your property taxes. A property's taxable value can only increase annually by the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is less, unless there is an addition to the property (i.e., physical improvement or omitted property) or the property's ownership transferred during a previous tax year. See MCL 211.34d.
Your property's assessment change notice will indicate your property's taxable value and the amount the taxable value has increased over the previous tax year's taxable value.
A property's taxable value can also decrease if there is a physical loss to the property. See MCL 211.34d.
Taxable Value Contention - The value that the party believes it should have been for the year(s) at issue.
Taxable Value in Contention - The difference between what the petitioner and the respondent believe to be the property's taxable value for each tax year at issue.
Testimony - Oral statements made by witnesses in support of a party's contentions.
Timely Filing - There are statutory requirements that govern the timely filing of an appeal. If an appeal is not timely filed, the Tribunal has no authority to grant the relief requested.
You should review the appropriate statutes to determine when an appeal must be filed.
The statutes governing the filing of property tax matter appeals include, but are not limited to, MCL 205.735a, 211.7cc, 211.7ee, 211.27a, 211.27b, and 211.53a.
The statutes governing the filing of non-property tax matter appeals include, but are not limited to, MCL 205.22.
Tribunal Member - A judge who has been appointed by the governor.
True Cash Value - The fair market value or the usual selling price of property. For a more detailed definition see MCL 211.27.
True Cash Value Contention - The property's fair market value or usual selling price as determined by the party for each tax year(s) at issue.
Uncapping of the Taxable Value - When the property's ownership transferred during a previous tax year, the property's taxable value is uncapped and becomes the same as the property's state equalized value.
A property's taxable value can also decrease if there is a physical loss to the property. See MCL 211.34d.
Valuation Appeal - An appeal of a property's true cash value and/or taxable value.
Valuation Disclosure - A valuation disclosure is an appraisal or other documentary evidence that a party intends to submit to establish the subject property's true cash value. See TTR 101(m), 252, and 283.
Witness - Anyone sworn-in to testify.