Assessing Procedure


Under the State of Michigan Constitution, all property must be assessed at 50% of its true cash value. True cash value or market value is a product of the prices paid for property. As prices increase or decrease, so does market value. The Assessor studies the market and collects information about properties to estimate value. Accordingly, changing real estate value in the community will be reflected in the assessments. However, the most obvious reason a property’s value can change is that the property itself changes. Therefore, any physical changes, such as additions or demolitions, will also be reflected in the assessments. Even though all properties have an assessed value, which is 50% of market value, as a result of the passage of Proposal A in 1994, property taxes are based on taxable value, which is limited to an increase of no more than 5% annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. However, the taxable value can be affected by new construction and demolitions made to property. The limit or cap on increases in taxable value remains in effect each year, except in the year after the property’s ownership is transferred. In that case, the taxable value is increased to equal the assessed value. 

Personal property, e.g., furniture, fixtures, equipment and machinery, situated in Southfield and used in the operation of a business must be reported annually by the owner on the Personal Property form supplied by the Assessing Department, which is due by Feb. 20th each year. If the form is not filed in a timely manner, an estimated assessment will be made and the right to appeal at the local or state level or file a correction with the State Tax Commission will be eliminated. 

In pursuance of the Assessing Department’s goal of producing the fairest possible assessment roll each year, assessment notices are sent to property owners once a year in February. For incorrect or disputed assessments, there is an opportunity to correct information and proposed values with the Assessor or to appeal tentative assessments for the current year to the Board of Review in March. The Board of Review is a three-member panel of Southfield residents, who hear the appeals and can make corrections to the assessment roll by increasing or decreasing any improper assessment. The hearings are by appointment only. After assessment notices have been mailed in February, property owners can come into the Assessing Department to make an appointment to appear in front of the Board of Review. Nonresidents may write a letter of appeal that must be received by the department the last day the Board meets. The assessment notice will contain instructions about meeting dates and times, deadlines and filing procedures.