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Published: Tuesday, 2/18/2014

Mich. tax panel says site improved

Michigan Tax Tribunal says backlog of 40,000 cases eliminated, announces improvement efforts


LANSING — An administrative court that hears appeals about taxes in Michigan has eliminated a backlog of 40,000 cases and launched efforts to make the system more user-friendly, officials said.

The Michigan Tax Tribunal said its enhanced Web site now has electronic filing and case management systems, as well as an enhanced docket search. The technology upgrades are broader part of an effort to improve the tax assessment dispute process.

A business process review and other work allowed the Michigan Tax Tribunal to eliminate the backlog, officials said.

Before 2011, the state said the tax appeals process took 20 to 24 months. Now, officials said the process takes an average of 7 to 10 months.

“These improved systems move the tribunal to a more paperless environment and save staff and the public valuable time and resources,” said Mike Zimmer, executive director of the Michigan Administrative Hearing System.

“We look forward to continuing to improve our efficiency and further reduce the length of the appeals process.”

Earlier this year, an idea was raised to replace the tribunal with a Michigan Tax Court whose judges and magistrates would have more experience and higher pay. The proposal came after complaints that the current process was too complicated and had inconsistent results.

Most appeals before the Michigan Tax Tribunal involve property taxes, but the court also hears other state tax issues.

One criticism of the tribunal was its use of paper copies of small claims appeals, making it difficult for property owners to research cases.

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