Court rules against Breitung in tax case

IRON MOUNTAIN – The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a Michigan Tax Tribunal ruling that significantly reduces the property tax assessment for a Home Depot store in Breitung Township.

The township filed a court appeal against the tax reduction, but a decision released Tuesday affirms the tribunal’s action.

The township claimed that Home Depot’s appraisal report, which the tribunal mostly accepted, was legally flawed because it compared an occupied store to abandoned properties. The appeals court, however, determined that it was acceptable to value the Home Depot store as vacant and available.

The ruling equates to a reduction of more than 50 percent in taxable value for the Home Depot property, according to Dickinson County Equalization Director Sid Bray. It results in a total loss in tax base of nearly $8.2 million for the five-year period from 2009 through 2013.

In filing its court appeal, Breitung Township was joined by Marquette Township, which has a similar dispute with home improvement retailer Lowe’s. Marquette Township’s appeal was also rejected.

The possibility of an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court remains, although it’s not yet known if the townships will continue the case or drop it.