Federal judge rules on lawsuit over property tax appeals in Detroit
Detroit – A federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against the city, Wayne County and state officials alleging that Detroit property owners were “illegally” prevented from appealing property tax assessments.
U.S. District Court judge Nancy Edmunds on Friday issued a motion to the defendants dismissing the case and his claims for violation of procedural rights. The Federal Supreme Court is not competent because “there is a state remedy that is simple, quick and efficient.” “”
Detroit assessor Alvin Horhn said in a statement the case never had any value.
“We are pleased that the judge saw how quickly the city was able to provide a simple and efficient solution to ensure that any homeowner who wanted to appeal their assessment has the time it takes,” said Horhn . “In fact, Detroit has the most robust process in Michigan for homeowners to appeal their assessment if they feel inaccurate.”
Rami Naji Fakhouri of Chicago law firm Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP, which filed the lawsuit last year, said in an email that the firm is still in contact with its clients and has no immediate comment.
Activists, experts and city officials gathered in February 2020 to announce the lawsuit and called for reforms to compensate tens of thousands of overwhelmed Detroit homeowners.
The lawsuit alleged that all Detroit homeowners had their 2017 tax bills sent too late to have a fair chance to file a tax complaint. Failure to send tax returns in a timely manner violated the constitutional rights of homeowners.
The class action lawsuit concerned owner-occupiers who had received “poor” property tax returns in 2017 and gave residents the opportunity to appeal against their assessments for 2017 and claim damages. They also wanted the county to stop foreclosures on properties that were not properly notified to appeal.
In 2017, the city completed a citywide real estate revaluation valued at $ 8.4 million. The effort was ordered by the state after a 2013 Detroit News investigation revealed overvaluation issues.
At the time, officials admitted that the notices were belatedly expired, but the appeal window had been extended by two weeks, giving homeowners the same amount of time to file files.
The lawsuit also alleged “unjust enrichment” by Wayne County, who oversees Detroit real estate valuations. A spokesman for the district could not be reached immediately on late Friday.
In 2016, the Michigan ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund sued Wayne County’s treasurer for halting the tax auction, noting the city’s overstated tax assessments. Those claims were thrown out when a Wayne County Circuit judge ruled that the Michigan Tax Tribunal was in charge, not the court.
The Detroit News published an investigation in January 2020 that found that City Hall overtaxed homeowners by at least $ 600 million between 2010 and 2016 after officials failed to precisely cut property values in the post-recession years.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has acknowledged previous overvaluations but said he cleaned up the practice and lowered values after taking office in 2014.