Senate committee passes Shirkey bill clarifying law for active duty service members

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LANSING, Mich. — A Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey that would ensure that active duty members of the military would not lose their Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) while serving away from home.

Senate Bill 606, reported unanimously from the Senate Finance Committee, fixes an ambiguity in the law that sometimes inconvenienced members of the military who claimed this common residence exemption from some local property taxes.

“Members of the military who do their jobs while serving away from home should be able to claim the same exemption that non-military homeowners claim,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Even though the state has typically granted the Principal Residence Exemption to active duty military in the past, the ambiguity in the law has caused at least one known hassle for a constituent, and it should be fixed.”

Under current law, any homeowner claiming the Principal Residence Exemption must not only own their house but also occupy it to keep the exemption. This can create problems for members of the military serving away from home.

In one instance, a member of the military who claimed the PRE was required to participate in a lengthy hearing process to determine if his claim was valid. Although this individual was eventually able to keep the exemption, the case could have gone a different way.

SB 606 makes it clear that members of the military currently serving can legally claim the PRE for their one true home, even when they are away protecting citizens’ rights. The PRE can still only be claimed on the owner’s actual residence.

The proposed bill would also ensure that servicemen who file untimely for the PRE would now have a way to refile by allowing the local Board of Review to consider and approve their forms.

SB 606 now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.