City steps up efforts to reach homeowners who may qualify for poverty tax exemption

The City of Detroit is preparing a mailing to 188,000 households the meet the initial eligibility requirements for receiving a property tax exemption to encourage homeowners to apply if they meet the remaining requirements. The mailing will be sent to all households with an assessed value of less than $95,000, which is the cutoff point for Poverty Tax Exemption (PTE) eligibility.

Having PTE is a requirement under the proposed “Pay as You Stay” program city and county officials announced on Wednesday. If approved by the State Legislature and the Governor, the program would eliminate all penalties and interest on back taxes for income-eligible residents and significantly reduce their monthly payment to get current on their tax bills.

“Making sure eligible homeowners are aware of and apply for a PTE is key to our strategy to ensure Detroiters struggling with their property tax bill can stay in their homes,” said Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron. “Having a PTE also will help these individuals be eligible for the proposed Pay As You Stay program.”

Over the past two years, the City has increased its efforts to notify eligible residents of the PTE and is on track to approve more than 6,000 applications this year. In 2014, for example, the city approved 3,800 PTEs and the numbers have increased annually since then.

PTEs are granted only for the current tax year and can provide either a 50% or a 100% exemption from paying 2019 property taxes based on the following guidelines:

Tax Exemption

Applications for the Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP) are due by December 10th to be considered for this year. Applications are available online (search for “HPTAP”). Applications also may be requested to be sent by mail by call 313-224-3035 or by emailing

The mailing will also include details on a series of ongoing workshops being held across the city helping people understand and apply for the Poverty Tax Exemption.

Schedule of Poverty Tax Exemption Workshops

Property Tax Exemption

Required Documents  

  • Copy of proof of home ownership (deed, land contract, court order, divorce settlement, etc.)
  • Current photo ID for all adults
  • A tax return, report card, or other official document that includes an address for any minors in the home
  • 2018 Federal & State tax returns for all adults, if filled
  • Proof of income for all adults without tax returns (Ex: W2’s, paystubs, SSI/SSD, pension, food stamps, FIA/DHS, child support, self-employment, signed letter from anyone who is helping you financially, etc.
  • Proof of assets, if over $12,000 (Ex: bank statements, 401k, insurance settlement, etc.)
  • If household income is over eligibility guidelines: Prof of expenses (Ex: all pages of utility bills, medical bills, phone/cable/internet bills, tax payment plan, credit cards/loans, insurance bills, etc.)

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