Glossary of Terms
The Tribunal is an administrative court that hears tax appeals for all Michigan taxes. As a tax court, there are legal terms and unique terms used to describe the types of appeals filed at the Tribunal and the processing of those appeals for hearing and decision. To facilitate your understanding of the Tribunal and our processes, we are providing the following glossary of common terms utilized at the Tribunal.
DISCLAIMER: "The definitions provided are not meant to be a substitute for legal advice."
Abeyance – A temporary hold placed on a case or motion. The Tribunal may place a case in abeyance pending the outcome of another action (i.e., Court of Appeals case). The Tribunal may place a motion in abeyance pending the filing of additional information.
Adjournment - Postponement of a Hearing to a later date.
Ad Valorem - The tax based on the value of the item being assessed. For example, an ad valorem property tax is a tax based on the value of property.
Answer Form (Small Claims only) - The form filled out by respondent identifying relevant information regarding the issue being appealed. Respondent must file the answer form with the Tribunal and serve a copy on the petitioner.
Appeal - A request for review of a decision rendered by an agency. See MCL 205.731. An agency means a bureau, division, section, unit, board, commission, trustee, authority, office, or organization within a state department, created by the constitution, statute or department action. For Tribunal purposes, 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. An appeal is initiated by the timely filing of a petition.
Assessed Value - Generally the same as state equalized value unless an equalization factor has been applied by the county in which the property is located or the State.
Authorized Representative - A person, other than an attorney, representing a party in a proceeding.
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).
Default - The status a party may be placed in if that party fails to comply with a Tribunal rule or order. See TTR 231.
Default Hearing - A Hearing at which the defaulted party is prohibited from providing any testimony or documentary evidence, or cross-examining Witnesses. See TTR 231.
Discovery - The process used by parties to obtain information or documents from the opposing party to aid in the preparation of an appeal for Hearing. 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 provided by the tribunal." See TTR 247. Formal discovery is prohibited in the Small Claims Division except by leave of the Tribunal. See TTR 261.
Dismissal - The termination of an appeal without further action.
Dispositive Motions – A Motion 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.
Docket Number - The number assigned by the Tribunal to your appeal.
Documentary Evidence - Written proof that a party intends to offer in support of that party's contentions.
In the Small Claims Division, documentary evidence is required to be filed with the Tribunal and served (i.e., given) to the opposing party 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 excluded (i.e., not considered). See TTR 287.
E-Filing System – A free, voluntary, online process for the initiation of appeals and the submission of pleadings (i.e., petitions and answers), motions, and other documents (i.e., stipulations, documentary evidence, letters, etc.) to the Tribunal.
Electronic Service – The method of providing documentation electronically. If the Tribunal has a valid e-mail address for a party, Orders, notices, and decisions will be sent to that party through e-mail.
Entire Tribunal - The formal division of the Tribunal. Hearings are held in Lansing before a Tribunal Member or Administrative Law Examiner.
Exceptions - Written objections to a Proposed Opinion and Judgment which must be filed with the Tribunal and a copy sent to the other party within 20 days from the entry of a Proposed Opinion and Judgment (Responses to exceptions must be filed and a copy sent to the opposing party within 14 days of when the exceptions were served.
Exhibit Lists (Entire Tribunal Only) - A listing of all documents or other tangible items (i.e., photographs, etc.) to be offered by a party at a Hearing 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.
Final Opinion and Judgment - The Tribunal's ruling that decides the issues appealed.
Hear On File (Small Claims Only) - If a party is unable to attend a scheduled Hearing, a party may request in writing that the Tribunal hear the appeal "on the file." The written request must be submitted 21 days prior to the date of the Hearing and a copy must be sent to the opposing party, who may object to the request.
If an appeal is heard "on the file," the Hearing Officer or Tribunal Member will conduct the Hearing and take the testimony of the opposing party and then render a decision based on that testimony and both parties' admitted documentary evidence.
Hearing - A proceeding conducted by a Hearing Officer or Tribunal Member during which the parties and other Witnesses present testimony and evidence in support of their separate contentions.
Hearing Officer - An Administrative Law Examiner that has been appointed by the Tribunal to conduct Hearings in either the Tribunal's Small Claims Division or Entire Tribunal or a contractual hearing referee in the Small Claims Division.
In pro per - Parties representing themselves.
Jurisdiction - The Tribunal's authority, defined by statute, to hear certain types of appeals.
Motion - A written request filed by a party or the parties requesting the Tribunal to take certain action. For fee information see TTR 217 for Entire Tribunal and TTR 267 for Small Claims.
Non-Property Tax Appeal - 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; Michigan business tax, corporate income tax, corporate officer liability issues; motor fuel refund issues; and cigarette taxes. See TTR 203.
Notice Giving Rise to the Appeal - The decision, ruling, determination, order, denial, or bill that is being appealed to the Tribunal. Both the petitionr and the respondent must submit a copy of what is being appealed.
Notice of Docket – A document sent by the Tribunal to the parties or the authorized representatives (i.e., attorney or agent) informing the parties of the docket number assigned to the case by the Tribunal. The notice of docket also provides information regarding the next action by the parties required in the case.
Notice of Hearing (Small Claims Only) - A document sent by the Tribunal to the parties or their attorney or Authorized Representatives 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.
Notice of No Action - A letter indicating the filed document or pleading was not properly filed. The Notice will tell the party how they can rectify the defect of the filed document or pleading will not be acted on.
Order - A written directive issued by the Tribunal which can rule on a motion or take action other action, as necessary.
Party - Typically, the petitioner or respondent. A party may also be a co-petitioner, co-respondent, intervening petitioner, or intervening respondent.
Petition Form (Small Claims Only) - The form required to initiate a new Small Claims appeal. Petition forms are available on this website.
Petitioner - A person or entity who files an Appeal with the Tribunal.
Prehearing Conference (Entire Tribunal Only) - A proceeding conducted by a Tribunal Member or Administrative Law Examiner to discuss the status of an Entire Tribunal appeal and schedule the appeal for Hearing. Prehearing conferences may be conducted telephonically or in-person. In-person prehearing conferences are conducted at the Tribunal's Lansing office.
Prehearing General Call (Entire Tribunal Only) - A listing of Property Tax Appeals that are ready for the scheduling of an Entire Tribunal Prehearing Conference. An Appeal is generally ready for the scheduling of a Prehearing Conference after the petition and answer have been filed. See TTR 247. The Prehearing General Call will provide dates for the filing and exchange of Valuation Disclosures and prehearing statements.
Principal Residence Exemption - An exemption from taxation for property that is the principal residence of a property owner. See MCL 211.7cc.
Proof of Service - Evidence that a document filed with the Tribunal was successfully served on the opposing party or the opposing party’s representative. See TTR 219.
Property Tax Appeal - An Appeal relating to the assessment of real or personal property under the state's property tax laws. Property Tax 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, poverty, or Veteran’s exemption. See TTR 203.
Proposed Opinion and Judgment - An interim decision, issued by a Hearing Officer, proposing to settle the rights of the parties and dispose of all issues presented by an appeal.
Qualified Agricultural Exemption - An exemption given to property that is classified as agricultural property or property that is devoted primarily to agricultural use. See MCL 211.7ee.
Rehearing - A Hearing that is conducted by a Tribunal Member after the issuance of a Proposed Opinion and Judgment based on Exceptions filed by at least one of the parties or as a result of the Tribunal's review of the Proposed Opinion and Judgment.
Respondent - A person or entity against whom an Appeal is commenced.
Response - A party’s reply to a motion which must be filed within 21 days of the service of the motion. See TTR 225. 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 brief, if any, must be filed simultaneously with the Response.
Responsive Pleading - A document filed in response to the opposing party’s pleading (i.e., petition). The most common form of a responsive pleading is an answer but could also include 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. See TTR 229.
Rule - One of the Tribunal's Rules of Practice and Procedure. Often referred to as the Tax Tribunal Rules or TTR.
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 - 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 - An 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 Petitioner and Respondent believe to be the property's state equalized value for each tax year at issue.
Stipulation of Facts - An agreement between parties regarding relevant facts in an appeal. To expedite the conducting of Hearings and reduce litigation costs, the Tribunal permits the parties to agree (i.e., stipulate) to all facts, all exhibits, and all Witnesses that are not or should not be in dispute.
Summary of Prehearing Conference and Scheduling Order - An order issued after the completion of a prehearing conference. The order controls the processing of the appeal for Hearing, summarizes the prehearing statements and prehearing conference discussions and sets dates for the filing and exchange of Exhibit and Witness Lists, the filing of dispositive motions, and the commencement of the Hearing.
Taxable Value - 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 211.27a and MCL 211.34d. A property's taxable value can also decrease if there is a physical loss to the property. See MCL 211.34d.Taxable value may not be the same as the property’s true cash value, assessed value, or state equalized value, but may not be greater than the property’s assessed value or state equalized value.
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 under oath at a Hearing.
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 value that the party believes is the property's fair market value or usual selling price as of December 31 of each tax year at issue.
Uncapping of the Taxable Value - When the property's ownership transferred during a previous tax year, the property's taxable value may be uncapped; if uncapped, the taxable value becomes the same as the property's state equalized value. Transfer of ownership is defined in MCL 211.27a.
Valuation Appeal - An appeal of a property's true cash value and/or taxable value.
Valuation Disclosure - An appraisal or other documentary evidence that a party intends to submit to establish the subject property's true cash value. See TTR 203, 237, and 255.
Withdrawal – A request by petitioner to dismiss the appeal.
Witness - Any person sworn-in to testify at a Hearing.
Witness Lists (Entire Tribunal Only) - A listing of all people a party intends to call to provide testimony in support of that party's contentions at an Entire Tribunal Hearing. The list must be included in the prehearing statement and 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 255.