There was a recently passed law that provides property tax relief for Michigan veterans who are 100% disabled. Disabled veterans hadn’t seen or heard anything about the law until they saw my blog post. Even worse, when the disabled vets tried to get help from their local township officials, many hit exactly what I had predicted in my post – townships offices that had no knowledge about the law or how to implement it and who did not even have the necessary forms for the disabled veterans to fill out in order to get the tax relief. In essence Michigan blew it again on this law.
Michigan is probably not the only state in which this happens. Well-meaning state-level law makers pass laws that must be implemented at the County and Township levels; but, they provide little to no guidance as to how to implement the law or don’t provide local–level training or the necessary support to implement the laws. In this case they also passed a law that reduced local revenues at the County and Township levels and just left it up to those bodies as to how they would make up for that lost revenue. Apparently, one way is for local officials to stonewall the people that the law was intended to help; so that they can’t get the break that the law allows.
I’m sure that the majority of the local officials aren’t really out to prevent disabled veterans from taking advantage of this tax relief; but, I’m equally sure that the state lawmakers blew it in terms of providing for the necessary publicity and implementation help for local governmental bodies. The Michigan lawmakers were focused upon providing some relief for their disabled constituents, without any concern about how their new law would be implemented. That has become common since terms limits have assured that we'll have lawmakers serving with little to no experience most of the time. Just the timing of the passage of the law shows that lack of understanding about implementation – it was passed and signed into law with immediate effect on November 12, with the 2013 tax appeal deadline in most jurisdictions less than a month away. By the time most disabled vets heard about it there was only a week or two before the 2013 deadline. Then, many disabled vets ran into befuddled township officials with no idea what to do.
The implementation of this new law looks a lot like a Detroit Lions fake field goal – all screwed up. Whomever the original sponsors of were of this worthwhile law were; they need to revisit whether they now need to provide some retroactive relief for 2013 taxes to those disabled veterans that got left out due to the poor communications involved. While I don’t mind hearing from all of the vets that have contacted me, I advise them to seek out their elected officials at the local and state level and raise a lot of cane about how this was handled. The lawmakers just kicked the can on down the road, but the people who need the help are left holding the bag for 2013 property taxes.
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