February 7, 2016

Post-Assessment Review

The Tricycle Collective reached out to our network to invite Detroit property owners to reassess their property taxes during the brief two-week window that comes each year.


The mayor has reduced property values for many property owners, but the difference between the true value and the assessed value is often still a huge chasm. Reducing the assessed value will lead to lower taxes, which can make homeownership more affordable which can reduce foreclosure. This proactive ownership is so important and it was wonderful to have families and friend show up to build a solid foundation.


This gathering was a success for the people who came, but it was also a reminder of how incredibly easy it is to slip through the cracks, and how hard it is to do things right.

1) A tiny window of opportunity: Most of the families we reached out to were not planning on reassessing their property taxes until we called, many hadn’t yet received their tax assessment in the mail or weren’t going to get it at al because the property wasn’t registered in their name properly. People who miss out on this 2 week window are stuck with the property assessment they get, which may be lower than last year, but is very likely to be far afield from reality.


2) Right Place, Right Time, Still Struggling The people who showed up had the advantage of the support of The Tricycle Collective, but they were doing everything on their own. We encouraged people to should check if the taxes were in their name, to confirm their homestead exemption, to request poverty exemption application (if it applied) and to request property reassessment. But when they emerged from the office with their paperwork after waiting for over an hour, many of them had only managed to work through a fraction of the issues that they needed to. They might not have known what they didn’t get right if we weren’t there to talk through it. They pulled another number and waited again.


3) Misinformation One members of The Tricycle Collective (who went back through the line twice) was told twice that she could not request a poverty exemption until November. If she waits until November to request it, she will miss her chance for the year. Poverty Exemptions, Homestead Exemptions, Property Reassessment appeals, these are all tools that our laws have made available to homeowners but the difficulty in procuring them


We filed about 10 reassessment requests. Two families got their homestead exemption. And another got their PTA (Property Transfer Affidavit)


Adjusting a property value is extremely important for people who are delinquent on their taxes. According to a recent law, back taxes can be cut down to half of the SEV, so if the SEV is lower, then the back taxes can be reduced by a greater amount and people may be more likely to avoid foreclosure.

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