The Michigan Senate voted today to pass Senate Bill 114, legislation sponsored by Senator Vincent Gregory (D–Southfield) that would eliminate a loophole that allows building owners to use occupancy rates to avoid paying property taxes. This bill will ensure property taxes are equal for all office building and commercial park owners and maintain vital funding for public safety and other government services.
“Without the passage of this legislation, some property owners have been able to use this loophole to dramatically reduce their property taxes in lean times—and keep them low when their property values should have gone back up,” said Senator Gregory. “All building owners deserve a level playing field and should not be paying tax rates that are inconsistent with their competitors. More importantly, property taxes are a vital source of funding for our local governments, and this loophole has been allowing property owners to withhold funding that they are expected to pay for police officers, fire fighters, infrastructure and other universal community services.”
During Michigan’s economic struggles over the last few years, owners of large commercial office buildings began having their property taxes reassessed—and ultimately reduced—based on their dwindling occupancy rates. These reductions in property taxes have had an adverse effect on local governments that rely on property taxes to provide local police and fire and other vital services.
“I appreciate Senator Gregory’s efforts to address this problem and help local governments like ours recoup the money we are owed to provide the services businesses and residents alike depend on,” said Irv Lowenberg, Southfield City Treasurer. “Everyone in our community has equal access to police and fire, and everyone should be contributing equally to maintaining them.”