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Zenti v. City of Marquette

Court of Appeals of Michigan

July 25, 2019

RICO ZENTI, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
CITY OF MARQUETTE, Respondent-Appellant.

         THIS OPINION IS UNCORRECTED AND SUBJECT TO REVISION BEFORE PUBLICATION IN THE MICHIGAN COURT OF APPEALS REPORTS.

          Tax Tribunal. LC No. 17-003615-TT.

         COUNSEL:

          For RICO ZENTI, Petitioner-Appellee: WILLIAM I MCDONALD.

          For MARQUETTE CITY OF, Respondent-Appellant: RONALD D KEEFE.

           Before: TUKEL, P.J., and SERVITTO and RIORDAN, JJ.

         OPINION

         [329 Mich.App. 260]Tukel, P.J.

          Respondent, the City of Marquette, appeals as of right the final opinion and judgment of the Tax Tribunal. In its opinion, the Tax Tribunal held that the conveyance by five siblings, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, to themselves, as tenants in common, was not a " transfer of property" under the General Property Tax Act (GPTA), MCL 211.1a et seq. For the reasons provided below, we affirm.

          I. BACKGROUND

          The facts of this case are simple and uncontested. On April 25, 1996, Rose Mary Zenti, the owner of the property at issue in this case, executed a quitclaim deed, which conveyed title to herself and her children (Peter J. Zenti, Kathleen Fudjack, Marilyn Siegel, Christine Emmendorfer, and petitioner, Rico Zenti, collectively " the children" ), as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship. Rose Mary passed away on December 7, 2015, thereby leaving the children as the sole joint tenants with full rights of survivorship, and thus her one-sixth interest passed by operation of law to the children. On January 13, 2016, the children executed a quitclaim deed that conveyed the property to themselves, as tenants in common.

          On February 23, 2017, the children received a notice of assessment from respondent. The notice identified the new assessments for the taxable value, assessed value, and state equalized value for the property:

         

         2016

         2017

         Change From

         

         

         

         Prior Year

         Taxable Value

         $126,450

         $246,000

         $119,550

         Assessed Value

         $226,700

         $246,000

         $19,300

         State Equalized Value

         $226,700

         $246,000

         $19,300

          The notice further provided that there was a transfer of ownership of the property in 2016.

         [329 Mich.App. 261] On May 22, 2017, petitioner filed a petition with the Michigan Tax Tribunal Small Claims Division. Petitioner challenged the " Uncapping of Taxable Value," arguing that the property had been " inappropriately uncapped by the city Assessor." [1] Petitioner maintained that, given that he and the other grantees were children of Rose Mary, the transfer of her interest after her death was exempt under MCL 211.27a(7)(d) and (7)(u). Moreover, petitioner contended that the January 2016 conveyance was not a " transfer ...


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