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Don’t Forget to File Your Qualifying Statement

The importance of obtaining “qualified status” each year from the Michigan Department of Treasury cannot be overemphasized. School districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies that obtain qualified status are able to issue new bonds and notes faster and pay lower filing fees to the State of Michigan. Schools that do not obtain qualified status may experience signifi­cant delays in issuing bonds and notes during calendar year 2018. That is especially problematic for cash flow borrowings such as state aid notes (“SANs”) and tax anticipation notes (“TANs”) where unexpected delays may be perilous.

Before a school issues certain types of debt (including bonds, SANs, and TANs), it either must have qualified status or apply to Treasury for prior approval if qualified status was denied. A Munic­ipal Finance Qualifying Statement form must be completed and filed electronically with Treasury by December 31 each year. This filing can be accomplished through Thrun Law Firm’s website (www.thrunlaw.com). Go to the “Links” page and select “Michigan Department of Treasury - Municipal Finance” under the “Bond and Finance Links” heading. Then select “Qualifying Statement” and follow the instructions for online filing.

If qualified status is not obtained, Treasury has up to 30 business days (i.e., six calendar weeks) to evaluate a prior approval application. The 30 business day review period begins on the date Treasury deems the application “received,” as opposed to the date the application is filed. Because of internal procedures at Treasury, actual receipt may occur up to one week after an application is filed. Consequently, a borrower without qualified status must plan well ahead and build additional time into its schedule to accommodate Treasury’s application process.

Treasury will not grant qualified status unless a school first files a copy of its annual audit. A school that fails to file its annual audit with Treasury by December 31 will be denied qualified status the next calendar year. Consequently, school officials should ensure that the audit has been filed with Treasury before filing a Qualifying Statement. We recommend that the audit be filed electronically or via certified mail or overnight carrier to confirm timely delivery.

The State of Michigan now accepts a single electronic filing to satisfy the audit filing obligation with both Treasury and the Department of Education. This procedure requires electronic filing of the audit with MDE. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, MDE requires that the audit be filed by November 1, 2017, which is an earlier date than Treasury requires. Details for audit submission are available on the “Links” page of our website.

Some of the questions on the Municipal Finance Qualifying Statement form (such as those related to taxes levied and delin­quent taxes) can be confusing. Please read and complete the form carefully. At a client’s request and without charge, Thrun Law Firm’s finance attorneys will review a client’s Qualifying Statement before it is filed. Please provide the draft document to your finance attorney by early December to allow adequate time for review.