Many of the local communities and school districts that are asking voters to approve millage increases Tuesday have struck on a clever marketing approach: position the hike as a tax decrease, because plunging property values will result in lower overall tax bills this year, even at the higher rate. Expect the gimmick to catch on as governments scramble to replace revenue lost to falling assessments.
It’s even worse than you know.
There are many local communities (like the one in which I live), where most (if not all) of the properties are being deliberately over-assessed. The local assessors feel they can get away with this because:
1) Most people don’t know how to get a proper assessment and appeal the avaricious attempts by the local unit of government to financially rape them
2) The local unit of government (like mine) waits until the last possible, statutorily required moment to mail new assessments to the property owners and then schedules Local Appeal Meetings as soon as statutorily possible; leaving the property owners little or no time to schedule a meeting and collect the information required to file an appeal with the Local Appeals Board.
3) Since the Local Appeals Boards routinely deny assessment appeals, the backlog in appeals to the State Tax Tribunal is becoming so large it is taking YEARS to get a decision.
So, even if you are judged by them to have been over assessed, the local unit of government won’t have to refund the extra taxes they extorted from you for the YEARS necessary to get the State Board of Appeals – but you are required by law to pay the extortionist level of taxation until (or if) the State Tax Tribunal changes your assessment.
In addition, you must hire a lawyer to represent you before the State Board of Appeals which will cost you additional thousands of dollars.
4) The local units of government know all of this and count on the delays and additional costs (and continued extortion of unreasonable taxes) to discourage taxpayers from acting to get justice and proper assessments. The basic message from the local unit of government is "Go away and stop bothering us. You can’t do anything about your assessment, anyway."
So, your local unit of government is actively working against your best interests and, at least in my case, it appears that no matter who you elect to that government they perpetuate this malfeasance upon their citizens.