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A Better Partnership
May 29, 2014

COA holds that the State Tax Commission did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review assessor’s determination of the value of personal property

In Autodie LLC v. City of Grand Rapids, the Court of Appeals held that the State Tax Commission (“Commission”) properly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Autodie’s petition.  Autodie’s petition claimed that a Grand Rapids assessor improperly rejected Autodie’s use of Form 4798 to report its personal property.  Under MCL 211.154, there are four areas in which the Commission has original subject matter jurisdiction: (1) property fraudulent assessed, under MCL 211.150(3); (2) property improperly assessed under MCL 211.150(3); (3) property omitted, under MCL 211.154; and (4) property improperly reported, under MCL 211.154.  The Court concluded that none of these areas applied to the case.

As Autodie did not assert that the assessor had fraudulently assessed the property, the Court did not address this issue.  As to the second ground for jurisdiction, Autodie never raised the issue of improper assessment before the Tax Commission. Instead, it raised the issue for the first time before the Tax Tribunal when it acted as an appellate body reviewing the Commission’s decision.  Thus, the Court of Appeals decided that this issue was not suitably preserved and declined to review it.  Next, in regards to property that is omitted, the Court determined that property is not omitted when an assessor determines the property’s value.  The Court distinguished the facts of this case from that in Superior Hotels, LLC v. Mackinaw Township, 282 Mich. App. 621; 765 N.W.2d 31 (2009) and concluded that the assessor did determine the value of Autodie’s personal property, even though it rejected Autodie’s use of Form 4798.  Lastly, as to Autodie’s contention that the assessor improperly reported the property’s type, the Court found that an assessor does not “report,” but rather, “assesses” property.  It concluded that the Legislature meant “improperly reported” to apply to those situations in which the taxpayer improperly reports its personal property on a personal property statement.  Autodie never asserted that it, the taxpayer, had incorrectly submitted its personal property statement.  Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Tax Tribunal’s dismissal of Autodie’s case based upon a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

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