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FAQ - Small Claims Hearings
These frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended for potential and current petitioners, respondents, and their representatives, seeking information about the Tribunal and our processes and procedures, and are not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. The Michigan Tax Tribunal cannot provide parties legal advice or assistance. If you need legal assistance or advice, you should consult an attorney or other knowledgeable individual.
a. RepresentationCan I represent myself at the Tribunal or do I need an attorney?
If I represent myself, what are my responsibilities?
b. Before the Hearing
I have received a copy of the Small Claims answer form from the respondent. What do I do now?
Once the Tribunal receives the completed answer form and attachments, the Tribunal will schedule your Small Claims case for hearing. All parties will receive a Notice of Hearing approximately 45 days before the date of the scheduled hearing advising them of the date, time and location of the hearing. If you have evidence that you wish to introduce at the hearing, the evidence must be filed with the Tribunal and copies provided to the other party at least 21 days before the date of the scheduled hearing or the evidence may not be allowed.
What is a hearing?
A proceeding conducted by a Tribunal Member or Administrative law judge (“ALJ”) during which the parties and other witnesses present testimony and evidence in support of their separate contentions. The administrative hearing in the Entire Tribunal Division is similar to a trial. The administrative hearing in the Small Claims Division is informal.
When will the hearing be scheduled?
Small Claims hearings are scheduled after all defects have been corrected and a Notice of Docket has been issued. Entire Tribunal hearings are scheduled within sixty days of the conducting of a prehearing.
Where will my hearing be held?
Small Claims property tax matter hearings are held in the county where the property is located, or in an adjoining county. Small Claims hearings may also be heard by telephone. Entire Tribunal hearings are held at the Tribunal's office. For more information on the Tribunal's location, see Contacting the Tribunal.
How will I be notified of the hearing?
The Tribunal will send both the petitioner and the respondent a notice of hearing approximately 30 to 45 days before the date of the scheduled hearing. The Tribunal does, however, have the authority to issue a notice of hearing 14 days before the date of the scheduled hearing. The notice will indicate the date, time, and location of the hearing.
What happens at a Small Claims hearing before the Tribunal?
Small Claims hearings are usually about one-half hour long. The petitioner provides testimony in support of his or her case, followed by respondent's testimony. The Tribunal hearing officer may then question the parties. You will not receive a decision at the time of the hearing. A written decision will be will be e-mailed to the parties, if the Tribunal possesses a party or party’s representative’s email. Otherwise, the written decision will be mailed.
What if I can't attend the hearing on the date on which it is scheduled?
If you cannot attend the hearing on the scheduled date, you must contact the Tribunal in writing to request an adjournment of the hearing. A request for adjournment is considered a motion and requires a $25.00 fee for the filing of the motion in the Small Claims Division. The fee is waived if you are appealing the valuation of your property in Small Claims and the property under appeal has received a principal residence exemption of at least 50% or more for the tax years under appeal. A Motion to Adjourn in the Entire Tribunal requires a $50.00 fee. Motions to Adjourn are not accepted by fax. Rather, motions must be filed by eFiling, hand delivery, or mail. The Tribunal's mailing address is P.O. Box 30232, Lansing, MI 48909, and eFiling feature is available. You should inform the Tribunal as soon as you know that you cannot attend the hearing. If your request to adjourn the hearing date is received at least 21 days before the scheduled hearing, the Tribunal may grant the request if it finds that good cause exists for an adjournment. Further, the motion may not be granted. A motion is a request and merely submitting a request for adjournment does not automatically result in the granting of the request. If the motion is not granted or the Tribunal has not notified you that it has been granted, you are required to attend the hearing. If the motion is granted, the parties may be precluded from submitting any further documents. In the Small Claims Division, you may also request that your case be "heard on the file" and determined on the evidence you already submitted. If you are unable to attend a hearing, you may submit a written request asking to have your case “heard on the file” based on the documents you have timely submitted. Such requests are routinely granted if received prior to the hearing. If the request is granted, the Tribunal will conduct the hearing to take the testimony of the opposing party and render a decision based on that testimony and the documents timely submitted by both parties. If a local unit of government submits a “hear on file” request, the request will not be granted unless property record cards for all tax years at issue have been submitted. If a request is not granted or the Tribunal has not notified you that it has been granted, you are required to attend the hearing.
How can I prove to the Tribunal that my property assessment is excessive?
Because the Tribunal is an administrative court and must be impartial and fair, we cannot give you legal advice or tell you how to prepare your evidence or comment on your evidence. The law indicates that the petitioner has the burden of establishing the property's true cash value as of the relevant tax date (December 31, 2014, for the 2015 tax year). True cash value or fair market value means the price a willing buyer will pay and a willing seller will accept in an independent sale. NOTE: Please do not send original documents as the Tribunal is required to maintain a complete case file and cannot return documents submitted into evidence.
What are the requirements for the submission of evidence in a Small Claims matter?
TTR 287 of the Tribunal's Rules of Practice and Procedure requires that:
How do I withdraw my appeal?
A petitioner may request to withdraw their appeal and have their case dismissed. Such a request must be made in writing and is considered to be a motion. There is no fee to file a Motion to Withdraw in either the Entire Tribunal or Small Claims Division. See TTR 217 and TTR 267. The Tribunal Rule governing Motions to Withdraw is TTR 231. This rule indicates that after the answer or first responsive motion has been filed, the request to withdraw must be filed in order to give the opposing party an opportunity to respond. Given this requirement, a Motion to Withdraw must be filed with the Tribunal and served upon the opposing party at least 21 days in advance of the hearing or prehearing conference, unless Petitioner has obtained the consent of Respondent. If the parties agree to the withdrawal, the Tribunal will allow a letter of withdrawal (rather than a formal motion) with an attached fax or email from Respondent shows their agreement with the withdrawal. A more formal Motion with written concurrence, or a Joint Motion, will be acceptable to the Tribunal as well. Please note that filing a Motion to Withdraw is a request and the withdrawal of the case is not automatic. Unless the parties agree as indicated above, the Motion may be denied if it is not filed at least 21 days in advance of a scheduled hearing. In addition, if an objection to the withdrawal cites good cause, the Tribunal may deny the withdrawal request and order the case to proceed to hearing. In property tax situations where a respondent objects to the withdrawal because it believes the subject property is under assessed, respondent becomes the moving party and bears the burden of proof. Motions to Withdraw will no longer be accepted by fax. Rather, motions must be filed by eFiling, hand delivery, or mail. If it is a Joint Motion to Withdraw or a Motion to Withdraw with concurrence it may be emailed to email@example.com.
c. At the Hearing
Can a member of the public attend any scheduled in-person hearing?
All hearings are open to the public. Hearings are listed on the Hearings Calendar. For in-person hearings, simply go to the designated location at the time of the hearing and sit in the audience section.
Are telephonic and video conference hearings open to the general public?
All hearings, even telephonic and video conferencing hearings, are open to the public. These hearings are listed on the Hearings Calendar. For telephonic and video conference hearings, call or email the Tribunal for information. To ensure timely admittance, we recommend that you email the Tribunal at least an hour before the start time of the hearing. The Tribunal’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
d. After the Hearing
How long will it take to get a decision on my appeal?
Both Entire Tribunal and Small Claims decisions are typically issued within 90 days of the hearing date.
How do I find out the status of my appeal?
The best way to find out the status of your appeal is to access the Tribunal's Docket Search. You can find this feature on the Tribunal's home page or by clicking Tribunal's Docket Search. The Docket Search is updated every 24 hours.
After the hearing, may I provide the Tribunal additional evidence about my case?
No. The Tribunal can only consider evidence timely and properly filed prior to or, in limited circumstances, at hearing.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision?
What if the respondent does not comply with the Tribunal's decision?
Tribunal decisions are enforceable by application to your local circuit court, which may order costs to be reimbursed.
How much is my tax refund?
The Tribunal cannot assist either party in the calculation of tax refunds.
The Tribunal Ordered that I receive a refund, but it has not been issued. What should I do?
The Tribunal is a quasi-judicial administrative agency and therefore has no authority to enforce its orders.
I want to request a Transcript or Hearing Recording of a Small Claims Hearing, what should I do?
A formal record of a Small Claims proceeding is not required, under MCL 205.762, and a “formal transcript shall not be taken for any . . . case . . . in the small claims division, unless otherwise provided by the Tribunal,” under TTR 265. For a digital copy of a Tax Tribunal Small Claims hearing recording, please visit the LARA Website, go to Key Services, and click on "Submit a FOIA Request." Detailed steps are outlined in the Hearing Recording Fact Sheet. If a Tax Tribunal case is appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and a certified record is requested, the Tax Tribunal’s certified record will not include a transcript of the hearing recording since there is no formal record or formal transcript taken in the Small Claims division. The Michigan Court Rules specify that the appellant is responsible for obtaining and filing the transcript of the hearing recording. MCR 7.109(B). If you want to create a written transcript from the digital recording, you must obtain your own. The Michigan Tax Tribunal does not produce or pay for transcripts. All questions regarding the processing, pricing, and certification of the transcript should be directed to the certified transcription/court reporting firm that you choose to use.