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Shirkey bill being signed clarifies and simplifies law for active duty service members

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature has fully approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey that would ensure active duty members of the military will not lose their Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) while serving away from home.

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

“With this bill signed into law, members of the military will be able to claim the same exemption that non-military homeowners claim,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Ambiguity in prior law caused hassles for at least one constituent. We wrote this bill to repair that language for any servicemen claiming it in the future.”

According to former law, any homeowner claiming the Principal Residence Exemption must not only own their house, but also occupy it to keep the exemption. This has created 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.

The armed forces community expressed support for Shirkey’s clarifications.

“With the passage of this bill, the law now clearly states that members of the military currently serving can legally claim the PRE for their one home, even when they are away protecting citizens’ rights,” said Major General Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard.

The updated law also gives servicemen who file untimely for the PRE a way to refile by allowing the local Board of Review to consider and approve their appeals. The PRE may still only be claimed on the owner’s actual primary residence.

Once signed by the governor, these improvements go into effect for current and future active duty military personnel.