The next time you receive a property tax bill or a Notice of Assessment on your home, take a look to see if it says “100% PRE” or “0% PRE.” PRE refers to your “Principal Residence Exemption.” If the property is your residence, it should say “100% PRE.” Imagine two houses right next to each other, on the same side of the street. They are built in the same style, of the same age and condition, have the same square footage, everything is exactly the same inside and out. One of the houses has a 0% PRE and the other house has a 100% PRE. Even though the two houses have exactly the same market value, the owner of the 0% PRE property pays more property tax than the owner of the 100% PRE property.
I occasionally see situations where a person has been living in his or her home for many years, and the whole time has been paying too much in property taxes because their principal residence exemption was never put in place. In such a case, the homeowner can lower their property taxes simply by filing a form at his or her local assessor’s office to put the principal residence exemption in place. Doing that will not retroactively change what the property taxes have been in the past, but will lower the property taxes moving forward.
Even if your property taxes are “escrowed,” which is to say the taxes are included in your mortgage, it is still a good idea to put your principal residence exemption in place if the property is your residence. Lowering your property taxes will lower the escrow, which will lower your monthly mortgage payments. When used in combination with eliminating your debts in bankruptcy, this is another technique to help take the pressure off your budget so you can rebuild your capital cushion and get the fresh start you deserve.
The above information is a general overview and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Protesting your assessment at the Board of Review, as well as appealing your property taxes to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, is beyond the scope of this article. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, the best thing to do is call our office at 248-557-3645 and schedule a free consultation so you can receive advice which is tailored to your specific circumstances.
By: Michael Benkstein, Esq.
Managing Attorney, Bankruptcy Department
The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz, PLLC