Tribunal LC No. 17-003615-TT
Before: Tukel, P.J., and Servitto and Riordan, JJ.
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.
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.
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:
Change From Prior Year
State Equalized Value
notice further provided that there was a transfer of
ownership of the property in 2016.
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." 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 of
ownership" but instead merely was "a change in the
type of ownership estate held by each of the" children.
Tribunal initially ruled that the 2016 transfer was not
exempted and thus the property's assessments were
properly uncapped. The tribunal rejected petitioner's
contention that the January 2016 conveyance was not a
transfer of ownership. The tribunal examined the definition
for a "transfer of ownership" and ruled that
petitioner, by transferring his right of survivorship and
terminating the joint tenancy, gave up a present interest.
Accordingly, this was a conveyance and, because the
conveyance occurred via a deed, it was a transfer of
tribunal further held that the January 2016 transfer of
ownership was not exempted under MCL 211.27a(7)(i) because
when the joint tenancy was terminated, none of the people
involved in the joint tenancy (i.e., the children) was an
original owner of the property before the joint tenancy was
created; the only person who met that criterion was Rose
Mary, and she already had passed away and was not involved in
the January 2016 transfer. The tribunal also rejected
petitioner's argument that the transfer was exempted
under MCL 211.27a(7)(u).Although the transferees were all
brothers and sisters, the tribunal noted that "[t]he
transfer was . . . from themselves to themselves" and
held that the exemption did not allow for a transfer to
oneself, as was the case here.
then filed a motion for reconsideration, which the Tax
Tribunal granted. The Tax Tribunal ruled that it had erred
when it found that the January 2016 transfer was not exempt
under MCL 211.27a(7)(u). The tribunal ruled that under the
definition of "transfer of ownership" in MCL
211.27a(6), the January 2016 transfer did "not
constitute a conveyance of title to or a present interest in
the property equal to the value of the fee ...