Amicus Brief

Autozone Stores, Inc. v City of Warren

Case Year: 2015
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: ad valorem real property tax, property tax assessment, true cash value methodology, small box stores, fee simple, Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT)
Amicus Counsel:

Robert Thall | Bauckman, Sparks, Lohrstorfer, Thall, & Seeber, P.C. | 458 West South Street | Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4621

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


The flawed valuation method employed by the petitioner and accepted by the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT) ignores the existing use of the property on tax day, being a fully operating no-obsolete small box retail store, and then erroneously derives the property value by comparison to sales of vacant, potentially obsolete commercial property. Additionally, the MTT precluded the city of Warren from using sales of leased properties as comparables to establish the true cash value of the occupied auto parts retail building. The flawed appraisal methodology pushed down valuations to artificially low levels and cannot stand.


In this tax appeal, respondent, City of Warren, appeals as of right the tribunal order ruling in favor of petitioner, AutoZone Stores, Inc, regarding its property tax petition in the small claims division. We affirm.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Autozone filed a petition in the small claims division, contending that its property was classified as commercial, real property, and that while the current taxable value was $266,580, that was an excessive valuation. The city replied that the taxable value was correct, and that the true cash value of the property was $533,160. Petitioner, however, posited that the true cash value of the property was $362,000, and that the taxable value was $181,000.
Respondent filed several exceptions, including that
petitioner’s attorney was not a certified appraiser and that the referee should not have accepted his appraisal report. Respondent also contended that the hearing referee
improperly failed to consider its leased comparables. However, the tribunal found the exceptions to be without merit and assessed the true cash value of the property as $362,000 and the taxable value as $181,000. The tribunal adopted the proposed opinion in full. Respondent now appeals.

Case Number: 2013-16
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