Opinion Date: 01/24/2013
Issues: Claim involving the Michigan Condominium Act (MCA)(MCL 559.101 et seq.); Whether the trial court had jurisdiction; Paulson v. Secretary of State; In re Wayne Cnty. Treasurer; Statutory interpretation; MCL 205.731(a) (granting the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) exclusive and original jurisdiction over certain matters); MCL 205.707 (real property involved in a petition for foreclosure); MCL 211.78k(2) & (3)(correctness of the property's unpaid taxes); In re Petition of Wayne Cnty. Treasurer for Foreclosure; Michigan Consol. Gas Co. v. China Twp.; In re Petition for Foreclosure; Whether the validity of the tax at issue depended on whether the subject property is a general common element or an individual condo unit; MCL 559.231(1); MCL 559.104; MCL 559.107(2); MCL 559.106(5); Whether the property at issue is a nontaxable common element; Paris Meadows, LLC v. City of Kentwood
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Petition of Emmet Cnty. Treasurer for Foreclosure
e-Journal Number: 53793
Judge(s): Per Curiam - Sawyer, Markey, and Whitbeck
The court held that Paris Meadows supported its conclusion that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to determine the respondent-Condo Association (CA)'s claim that the subject property was a nontaxable general common element. The petitioner-County Treasurer filed a petition for foreclosure in the trial court identifying the properties forfeited for unpaid taxes. The petition described the property as a detached garage owned by the CA. The CA filed an objection to the petition claiming that the delinquent taxes were invalid because the property was a detached garage owned by the CA and that the delinquent tax was illegally levied. Nothing in the record established that the property was leased or assigned to any unit of the CA during the taxation period. The trial court held a hearing and held that the property did not qualify as a limited common element but was a "general common element, the value of which needed to be spread across all of the units in the CA." The trial court dismissed the foreclosure petition. The court concluded that resolution of the case required the reconciliation of two conflicting statutes. On one hand, MCL 205.731(a) grants the MTT exclusive and original jurisdiction over a "proceeding for direct review of a final decision, finding, ruling, determination, or order of an agency related to assessment, valuation rates, special assessments, allocation, or equalization under the property laws of this state." The authority of "the MTT is effective notwithstanding the provisions of any statute, charter, or law to the contrary." Under MCL 205.707, if a person claiming an interest in a parcel of property identified in a petition for tax foreclosure challenges the validity or correctness of that property's unpaid taxes, MCL 211.78K(2) & (3) grants the trial court authority to hear the objections. The court recently addressed the apparent conflict between the statutory jurisdiction of the trial court and that of the MTT in In re Petition of Wayne Cnty., where the court held that the trial court has jurisdiction over tax forfeiture challenges that do not require any findings of fact - the trial court has jurisdiction of such cases that require only a construction of law. Here, the validity of the tax at issue depended on whether the property is a common element or an individual condo unit. The MCA mandates that "[s]pecial assessment and property taxes" be "assessed against the individual condo units . . . and not the total property of the project or any other part of the project . . . ." The MCA defines "limited common elements" as a "portion of the common elements reserved in the master deed for the exclusive use of less than all of the co-owners," and "general common elements" as "the common elements other than the limited common elements." The court held that the MTT had exclusive jurisdiction in this tax dispute. Respondent challenged the assessment of a tax to a particular parcel of property. The determination of whether the property was improperly assessed as an individual condo unit, was an issue that fell within the MTT's jurisdiction, not that of the trial court. Reversed.
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