By Pete Waldmeir
For Grosse Pointe Woods' homeowners and their brethern across Michigan there's new meaning this year for the old saw about the only things you absolutely can count on are death and taxes.
Just weeks after resoundingly defeating a Headlee Override and $20 million in new property taxes over the next 10 years, Woods' residents discovered this pre-Christmas week that they can run, but they can't hide from the grim tax reaper in Lansing.
In an impersonal postcard message from the Michigan Dept. of the Treasury, all state homeowners were informed that "changes have been made" in how to calculate our 2012 Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credits, changes "that may reduce or eliminate" this important tax credit altogether for many of us.
The most vulnerable to having their Homestead Tax Credit reduced or eliminated for 2012, according to Lansing officials:
Seniors (65 or Older),
Taxpayers with total "Household Resources" over $50,000 and
Homeowners whose property has a "taxable value" over $135,000.
The changes are significant for Grosse Pointe residents. In 2011, by comparison, a "Household Income" under $82,650 - not "Household Resources" under $50,000 - was the money qualifier. And all homeowners had to do was own or rent a property in 2011. There was no minimum of $135,000 "taxable value" we had to be below in 2012.
If you think it'll take a professional tax preparer to sort through the laundry list of state treasury forms and instructions in order to figure out the difference between $82,650 in "Household Income" and $50,000 in "Household Resources" on your 1040 this year, you're probably right. However, your homestead's "taxable value" is listed on your 2012 Winter property tax bill. Just don't confuse it with your State Equalized Value (SEV).
You can check www.michigan.gov/taxes for all those forms, confusing term definitions and more info in case you're a do-it-yourselfer. And good luck!
Reach Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Facebook.com/petewaldmeir.