Benzonia Township, Benzie County, Michigan

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FAQs — Frequently Asked Questions

ASSESSOR'S OFFICE
• Q1: I think I am eligible for a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) but I didn't submit my form to the
Assessor by November 1st. Can I still receive a PRE?
• Q2: What are assessments and when do they occur?
• Q3: My Assessed Value jumped over 5%, isn’t that illegal?
• Q4: Why is my tax bill twice as much as my neighbor, who has a much nicer house and bigger lot?
• Q5: When can I appeal my property assessment?
• Q6: I purchased my home for less than twice my State Equalized Value (S.E.V.), how can I get the value
adjusted to half of my purchase price?
• Q7: How do I apply for a land division?

CLERK'S OFFICE
• Q1: How do I reserve the Township Hall for an event?
• Q2: How do I reserve the pavilion in Memorial Park for my event?
• Q3: How many elections are held every year?
• Q4: How do I become an election inspector?
• Q5: How can I get buried in the Township Cemetery?

TREASURER'S OFFICE
• Q1: I have zoning questions, how can I find Benzonia Townships ordinance?
• Q2: What are Personal Property Taxes?
• Q3: I have a business and understand that I can be exempt from Personal Property taxes. How do I do that?
• Q4: The Board of Review lowered my taxes one year and they went up again the next year — why?
• Q5: What is the ZBA and why would I need to use it?
• Q6: Does the township accept partial payments for taxes?
• Q7: How do I become a firefighter?
• Q8: How do I get a tax receipt online?

ASSESSOR'S OFFICE

[Back to questions]

Assessor Question 1:  I think I am eligible for a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) but I didn't submit my form to the Assessor by November 1st. Can I still receive a PRE?

Answer: Yes. If you did not submit your form to the assessor in time to have the exemption added to your property record, you may petition the July or December Board of Review to request the exemption.

Assessor Question 2: What are assessments and when do they occur?

Answer: Assessments are required by law to be re-set on an annual basis. An Assessed Value (AV) is an estimated 50% of the True Cash Value (TCV) or Market Value for the property as determined by a market analysis of a collection of sales that have occurred in a specific 2-year time frame. The Assessed Value will increase/decrease annually based on the real estate market analysis and should not be expected to remain stagnant, unless the real estate market is such.

Assessor Question 3:  My Assessed Value jumped over 5%, isn’t that illegal?

Answer: In an ever-changing real estate market, Assessed Values should be expected to change from year to year. The TAXABLE Value is what can’t increase by more than 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lessor of the two, unless there has been an ownership transfer of the property, or there is new construction or missing improvements that have been added to the tax roll.

Assessor Question 4:  Why is my tax bill twice as much as my neighbor, who has a much nicer house and bigger lot?

Answer: Property Taxes are calculated based on “Taxable Value”, which has a cap increase every year limited to the rate of inflation, or 5%, whichever is lessor of the two, unless there has been an ownership transfer of the property, or there is new construction or missing improvements that have been added to the tax roll. The longer an owner owns a property, especially in an improving real estate market, the bigger differences there can be between their Assessed Value and Taxable Value. For example, Neighbor A has owned their home for 5 years and has an assessment of $120,000, but their Taxable Value is at $95,000 because the tax cap increase would have only been into effect for their property from the year after their purchase of it. Neighbor B purchased their home 30 years ago and has an assessment of $240,000, but because their Taxable Value has only increased annually by the rate of inflation, their Taxable Value could only be at $38,000, which would result in a much lower tax bill, despite the value difference.

Assessor Question 5:  When can I appeal my property assessment?

Answer: Assessment Change Notices are mailed out to taxpayer in February to inform them of the changes in their assessment and taxable values for the upcoming tax year.

Property assessments are appealed to the March Board of Review. This is held every year by law beginning on the second Monday in March. Caledonia Township generally has two days of hearings. You may appeal in person or by letter. If you wish to appeal in person, you must call for an appointment. The March Board of Review has the ability to correct assessments, change property classification and grant poverty and veteran exemptions. If a residential property is not appealed to the march Board of Review, the assessment is final until the following year.

Assessor Question 6:  I purchased my home for less than twice my State Equalized Value (S.E.V.), how can I get the value adjusted to half of my purchase price?

Answer: The law is specific in stating that it is illegal for Assessors in Michigan to set property values based individually based on what the property selling price is. The law further defines the True Cash Value (Market Value) as the usual selling price of a property. The Legislature and the Courts have very clearly stated that the actual selling price is not a controlling factor in the True Cash Value or State Equalized Value as calculated by the assessor. For this reason, when analyzing sales for determining assessment changes, the assessor will review all sales, but excludes sales that are not arms-length transactions, meaning the property was not available to the public on the open real estate market, from the assessment analysis.

Assessor Question 7:  How do I apply for a land division?

Answer: A land division application must be completely filled out and returned along with the appropriate fees and a professionally certified land survey detailing the proposed division, including updated legal descriptions for each new parcel created, and an updated legal for the remaining parcel. Questions regarding minimum size requirements for the township should be directed to the Zoning Administrator. The number of splits allowed per the State Land Division Act depends on the size of the parcel being divided and the last time the parcel was divided. Upon review of the completed application, a written response of approval or disapproval will be mailed to the property owner within 45 days of receipt of the completed application. If approved, the new legal descriptions need to be recorded with the County Register of Deeds with-in 90 days of the approval, or the process starts over.

CLERK'S OFFICE

[Back to questions]

Clerk Question 1:  How do I reserve the Township Hall for an event?

Answer: Obtain the Township Hall Usage Form from our Web site or township office, fill it out and return. If you are a non-profit group, there is no charge. If you are not a resident of Benzonia Township, there will be a $50.00 charge, plus the possibility of a cleaning deposit.

Clerk Question 2: How do I reserve the pavilion in Memorial Park for my event?

Answer: If you are with a non-profit group, you will need to obtain the Memorial Park Usage Form from our Web site or township office, fill it out and return. If you are an individual resident, you need to call the Deputy Clerk to reserve a particular date during the season.

Clerk Question 3:  How many elections are held every year?

Answer: There are four per year: held in the month of March, May, August, and November.

Clerk Question 4: How do I become an election inspector?

Answer: Visit the township clerk’s office for more information and an application. There is some training and a certification needed to work an election.

Clerk Question 5: How can I get buried in the Township Cemetery?

Answer: If you are a resident, you can own a lot for free. We also have rates for non-residents. Either way, there is a deed that needs to be filled out. Stop by the township offices for more information.

TREASURER'S OFFICE

[Back to questions]

Treasurer Question 1:  I have zoning questions, how can I find Benzonia Townships ordinance?

Answer: The zoning ordinance for West Benzie Planning (Benzonia and Platte Townships) is located on the Web site on our Zoning Ordinance of the West Benzie Joint Planning Commission.page.

Treasurer Question 2:
What are Personal Property Taxes?

Answer: Personal property taxes are taxes charged to businesses. The tax is placed on the businesses equipment (except equipment licenses with the state) that is used in business and depreciated on income tax.

Treasurer Question 3:  I have a business and understand that I can be exempt from Personal Property taxes. How do I do that?

Answer: If your business has less than $80,000.00 in equipment, you can apply to be tax exempt from personal property taxes, HOWEVER, you need to fill out the form yearly to keep the exemption.

Treasurer Question 4:  The Board of Review lowered my taxes one year and they went up again the next year — why?

Answer: The Board of Review hears disputes on the current year assessment. If the Board of Review lowers your taxable or assessed value for the year you are disputing, the value can still go up for the following year.

Treasurer Question 5:
What is the ZBA and why would I need to use it?

Answer: The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hears cases where there is a direct zoning issue that the applicant is asking to have appealed for their case only.

Treasurer Question 6:  Does the township accept partial payments for taxes?

Answer: Yes, Benzonia Township accepts partial payments on property taxes. We only accept cash or check. No credit or debit cards are accepted.

Treasurer Question 7:  How do I become a firefighter?

Answer: The fire chief has applications and will talk with you about becoming a firefighter for Benzonia Township.

Treasurer Question 8:
How do I get a tax receipt online?

Answer: From the front page of our Web site, in the Property Tax Services and Information box, click on the logo for Benzonia Township Property Tax Services (or click here). You will need to create a password and login to get to your parcel information. From there you can see when taxes were paid and print that information out.

 


    

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