Tax Tribunal LC No. 00-455553
Before: Ronayne Krause, P.J., and O'Connell and Gleicher,
Charter Township of Pittsfield (the Township) appeals as of
right the Michigan Tax Tribunal's order granting a
charitable institution exemption to petitioner, Trinity
Health-Warde Lab, LLC (the Lab), because the Lab is wholly
owned by a charitable institution even though it is organized
as a for-profit institution. We reverse and remand.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
to Craig Killingbeck, vice president of lab services for
Trinity Health Michigan (Trinity), the Lab is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Trinity. Trinity appoints the Lab's board
of directors, who manage the Lab's business and affairs.
Trinity created the Lab for the purpose of acquiring, owning,
and operating the Lab's real property, a 57, 000 square
foot building used solely as a medical laboratory. Trinity
and other nonprofit hospitals use the Lab's facilities
under a co-tenancy laboratory agreement.
2013, the Lab filed a petition with the Tax Tribunal alleging
its real property was exempt from taxation. The Township
responded that the property was not eligible for tax-exempt
status because the Lab is a for-profit entity. The Lab moved
for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), asserting
that Trinity has complete corporate control of the Lab and
because Trinity is a charitable institution under MCL 211.7o,
the Lab is also a charitable institution. The Township
responded that summary disposition was inappropriate because
the Lab, as a for-profit entity, does not meet several of the
requirements of a charitable institution.
Tribunal granted summary disposition to the Lab. The Tribunal
concluded that Trinity so dominated the Lab's management
and operation that it was proper to ignore the Lab's
separate corporate entity. Concluding that the Lab and
Trinity were essentially the same entity, the Tribunal
determined that the Lab was entitled to tax-exempt status
under MCL 211.7o. The Township now appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court's review of a decision by the Tax Tribunal is
limited. Mich Props, LLC v Meridian Twp, 491 Mich.
518, 527; 817 N.W.2d 548 (2012). When a party does not
dispute the facts or allege fraud, we review whether the
Tribunal "made an error of law or adopted a wrong
principle." Id. at 527-528. This Court reviews
de novo the interpretation and application of tax statutes.
Id. at 528. We construe exemption statutes in favor
of the taxing authority. Inter Coop Council v Dep't
of Treasury, 257 Mich.App. 219, 222; 668 N.W.2d 181
(2003). If an exemption exists, statutory construction may
not enlarge it. Menard Inc v Dep't of Treasury,
302 Mich.App. 467, 475; 838 N.W.2d 736 (2013).
Township argues that the Tribunal made an error of law when
it concluded that, because Trinity wholly owns the Lab, the
Lab was entitled to a charitable institution exemption even
though it did not meet the exemption's requirements. We
General Property Tax Act (the Act) provides that "all
property, real and personal, within the jurisdiction of this
state, not expressly exempted, shall be subject to
taxation." MCL 211.1. The petitioner bears the burden of
proving it is entitled to an exemption. ProMed Healthcare
v Kalamazoo, 249 Mich.App. 490, 492-493; 644 N.W.2d 47
211.7r provides an exemption for real property owned or
operated by nonprofit trusts used for ...