Delinquent property tax help for Michigan homeowners

Step Forward Michigan can now assist struggling Michigan homeowners, up to $30,000, with back-property taxes.

Step Forward Michigan just added property tax assistance to its programs for eligible struggling homeowners. Through a simple application, up to $30,000 in delinquent property taxes will be paid directly to the homeowner’s local county treasurer. Homeowners facing property tax foreclosure on March 31, 2013 might be able to save their homes with this program.

This new program is includes homeowners who do not have a mortgage and are behind on their property taxes. If the homeowner does not have a mortgage or if the current servicer cannot establish an escrow account to pay future real estate taxes, homeowners must meet all of the other eligibility requirements of the loan rescue program. Borrowers with mortgages can also be eligible for both property tax and loan modification help, to become current and have affordable payments.

In Michigan, real property tax delinquency involves a three-year forfeiture and foreclosure process. Parcels are forfeited to the county treasurers when the real property taxes are in the second year of delinquency. Real property taxes which remain unpaid as of March 31 in the third year of delinquency are foreclosed upon by the Foreclosing Governmental Unit (FGU), which is usually the county treasurer’s office. The FGU is responsible for inspecting forfeited property, providing due process notifications and subsequent disposition of the tax foreclosed property. Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury website for more detailed information regarding the real property tax forfeiture and foreclosure process.

“This is a wonderful program,” said Jim Buxton, Housing Counselor with Ionia County Michigan State University Extension. Until now, there was no help for homeowners who owe property taxes and own their home free and clear. “It enables them to keep their homes instead of going through foreclosure. [MSU Extension educators] can help them fill out the application, submit all the required documents and follow-up until a decision is made.

Homeowners who already received Hardest-Hit assistance cannot re-apply, however clients who previously applied and were ineligible because they were outside of program parameters may reopen their application under the updated guidelines.

Visit the A Step Forward website to start an application, or contact your local MSU Extension office in or near Macomb, Washtenaw, Lapeer and Ionia counties. In other areas, find a housing counselor through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.