Detroit expands property tax exemptions for homeowners

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The city of Detroit is expanding property tax exemptions for homeowners to help more residents avoid foreclosure, officials announced Wednesday.

The Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program, or HPTAP, now includes 25% exemptions. That means a family of two earning $25,703 or a family of four earning $31,930 would be eligible for a 25% reduction in their property taxes.

Previously, homeowners could qualify for a 100% exemption or a 50% exemption on their property taxes depending on income. A family of two earning $22,754 or less is eligible for a 50% exemption, while a family of two earning $20,246 or less is eligible for a 100% tax exemption, meaning they pay no property taxes each year they are eligible, according to the city.

Adding the 25% exemption option is expected to increase the number of residents eligible for financial support who wouldn't qualify for the property tax assistance program, the city said. The expansion also could give more residents access to the city's proposed Pay as You Stay program, which the state House of Representatives passed last month and would eliminate penalties, interest, and fees on back taxes.

"For Detroit to succeed, we need to help families stay in their homes," Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. "Thanks to the help of our great community partners, we have made a lot of progress reducing foreclosures by more than 90% and getting more Detroiters to apply for property tax exemptions. Expanding access to property tax exemptions will help reach more Detroiter families that may be struggling to pay their property tax bills and help them avoid possible foreclosure."

Housing advocates have argued the yearly application process for the property tax exemption is cumbersome and many are unaware it's available.

In 2019, the city granted 7,601 property tax exemptions to qualifying Detroit homeowners: a 30% jump from the previous year, officials said. The increase followed more outreach efforts by the city and community partners, including mailers, workshops and billboards.

Detroit's foreclosures have fallen from a record high 9,111 occupied homes in 2015 to 514 last year, representing a 94% drop, city data shows.

About 31,000 Detroiters living in their homes are behind on tax debt and Duggan has estimated that more than 60% could meet the income requirements to qualify for the Pay as You Stay program.

Tribune Content Agency
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