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The Michigan Tax Tribunal is a quasi-judicial administrative entity that functions as a tax court with original and exclusive jurisdiction over property tax matters and concurrent (i.e., shared) jurisdiction over non-property tax matters. See MCL 205.731 and 205.22. Prior to the creation of the Tribunal on July 1, 1974, the State Board of Tax Appeals and other boards and agencies, as well as Michigan's courts, provided review of local property tax and non-property tax matters. In 1969, an advisory board consisting of members of the State Bar of Michigan and representatives of the Michigan Department of Treasury, the Michigan State Tax Commission, and the Michigan Department of Attorney General reviewed administrative and judicial procedures utilized in resolving state tax questions and issued a report (“the 1969 Report”) recommending both changes in those procedures and the creation of a “specialized” administrative tribunal with jurisdiction over “all tax disputes.”
As a result of that report, the Tax Tribunal Act (MCL 205.701 et seq) was enacted in 1974 to both create the Tribunal and abolish the boards and agencies that had been responsible for review of various tax matters. The Act specifically provided that, as of January 1, 1976, any person or legal entity which was entitled to proceed before any “quasi-judicial body, court of claims, probate court or circuit court for determination of a matter relating to [various taxes] shall proceed only before the tribunal.”
In 1991, a committee was appointed by Governor Engler to review the operations of the Tribunal and make recommendations to improve those operations (“the 1991 Report”). Based on the committee's recommendations, Governor Engler issued on August 28, 1991, Executive Reorganization Order No. 1991-15, compiled at MCL 205.800. The ERO transferred the Tribunal to the Department of Commerce to avoid “the appearance of conflicting objectives with respect to the current location of the Tribunal in the Department of Treasury.” The ERO also transferred to the Governor the power to designate a member of the Tribunal as chairperson
Governor Snyder also issued an Executive Order (i.e., 2011-4) on February 3, 2011, transferring the Tribunal to the Michigan Administrative Hearings System in the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The Tribunal currently consists of seven members. These members are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve terms of four years, with one member appointed to serve as chairperson. Pursuant to the Tax Tribunal Act, the Tribunal's members are required to be citizens of the United States and residents of Michigan. They are also required to be from various walks of life with at least two members being attorneys, one being a certified level IV assessor, one being a professional real estate appraiser, and one being a certified public accountant. The Act further states that not more than three members shall be members of the same professional discipline, and that the members who are not attorneys, assessors, appraisers, or CPAs must have at least five years’ experience in state or local tax matters. These requirements ensure that the decisions issued by the Tax Tribunal are made by people having extensive knowledge and expertise in their respective fields.
Practice before the Tribunal is governed by the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, which are similar to the Michigan Court Rules that govern practice before the courts in Michigan. The Tribunal’s Rules were revised in 1981, 1996, and again in 2013 to reflect current practices and amendments made to the Tax Tribunal Act and the Michigan Court Rules. The Tribunal encourages input by parties who appear before it in order to improve its practices and procedures. Public meetings are being held to gather information and suggested revisions to the Tribunal Rules.