Appealing Your Property Tax Bill In Georgia

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Georgia Residential Property Appeal ProcessA must read page if you seriously believe your property has been overvalued (or under-valued) for tax purposes


In Georgia you can normally appeal your residential property taxes by filing a "Property Tax Return" or appealing directly to the "Board of Assessors."


If your property is valued at over a million dollars you can appeal to a hearing officer—which is technically a third option—however, since it does not apply to a large number of consumers it will not be discussed in this article.


However, if you have a property valued at over a million dollarskeep in mind that you have a third option and you would want to research that option in more detail.


To add clarity to this sometimes confusing topic—we will discuss the two primary methods that are used in Georgia.


1) Approach 1"Property Tax Return" or


2) Approach 2Appealing directly to the "Board of Assessors."


We also provide you with a direct link to the "Property Tax Return" site if you choose to use that method. We also provide a direct link to the Gwinnett Assessors Office as they now have an online procedure for filing a Property Tax Return.


Finally, we provide you with a link to the Georgia Tax Assessors Office—in case you want to further your understanding of the "Appeal Process" in Georgia. 


In the following paragraphs you will learn what you need to do to make the appeal of the value of your home more successful and increase your odds of getting the ultimate decision that you want.



1) Do Your Research


Be sure to do your research on the front end to make sure you won’t be wasting your time and effort by filing an appeal that is highly unlikely to be awarded in your favor.


Do you know your current valuation? Are you aware of recent sales in your subdivision for the past two years? In most Counties in Georgia there is normally an online (website) procedure—where you can access your property tax valuations.


By knowing the above, you will be in position to know if you have a realistic chance of winning your appeal.


You can find your current tax bill at the following links if you live in one of the following Counties:


Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fayette, Fulton and Gwinnett. 



2) File A Property Tax Return



File a “Property Tax Return” that details to the County what you think your property is worth.


Keep in mind that you don’t have to “file a return” to appeal the County’s value of your property, but if the County accepts your value—it would save you the hassle of a formal appeal. 


To “file a return”, download, complete, submit and print (for your records) the one page form by clicking on this link. 



If you live or own property in Gwinnett County you can file your return online at the Gwinnett Assessor's office website. 


3) Complete/Return Property Tax Return


In the bottom section  of the “Property Tax Return”  be sure to sign in the appropriate area and state the value that you feel (based on your research) your property is worth (land and your house) at this time.


This is the area where you tell the County how much you think the value of your property has gone down (or up) based on sales in your neighborhood.


You must send the form to your County tax assessor between January 1st and April 1st or whatever deadline is stated on your tax bill or tax document outlining the value for tax purposes. 



4) Wait For Assessor To Respond Between April And June (or the designated time period as it is subject to change based on legal changes in the County in which you file the appeal)


The assessor will then review (so it is a waiting game on your part—at this stage) your property tax return and decide whether it reflects your property value.


The County will respond with a "Notice of Current Assessment” between April and June telling you what it estimates your property is worth (the County will send you out a value notice even if you don’t file a property tax return). 


5) Accept or Appeal The Decision


The County will either “Agree” or “Disagree” with the value you propose. If the County disagrees—you can APPEAL.



Approach 2Direct Appeal to County Board of Assessors



If you decide “not to” file a “Property Tax Return” you can “Appeal” your County appraisal directly to the County.


All Counties in Georgia must send every property owner a “Notice of Current Assessment” stating the "estimated value of the property."


If you disagree with the counties value—you MUST file your appeal within 45 days of the date on your notice.


The County Board of Assessors will then try to work out your appeal.



If the work out is not acceptable to you at the County Board of Assessors office, your next step would be:



1) Appeal Directly to Board of Equalization



The Board of Equalization is a panel of County residents that hears appeals that were unable to be resolved at the Board of Assessor’s level. 


2) Or, Choose Binding Arbitration



Binding Arbitration involves submitting a written private appraisal to an arbitrator appointed by the Superior Court Clerk.


You can appeal a Board of Equalization or Arbitration decision to your County Superior Court!


You should be acutely aware that "appealing" either of the above processes to your County Superior Court will require that you pay fees. 


There is no fee to the "Board of Equalization!"


With "Binding Arbitration" you would normally have to pay for a residential property appraisal—so that method would normally have fees!



If you file a “Property Tax Return” there are generally no fees!



More On What You Must Know If You Want To Understand The Appeal Process in Georgia & Make It Work For You


To learn more about appeals in Georgia click on this link... 



It is important that you understand that an “appeal” is simply a tax notice that gives you the right to file an appeal, or contest the county’s value.


As an owner you would have 45 days from the date of notice to file an appeal.


An “appraisal” is the county’s estimate of the fair market value (FMV) of your property.


An “Assessment” is the amount on which you (property owner) pay taxes.


Your assessment in Georgia would be 40% of the appraised value—minus the exemptions you were entitled to—and claimed.


An “Assessor” is a county official in charge of approving tax values and exemptions upon the recommendation of staff.


In most cases the assessor is appointed by county commissioners.





The “Board of Equalization” is a panel of county residents who hear tax appeals for cases not resolved by staff or the Board of Tax Assessors.





The “County Appraiser” is a county employee charged with setting the tax value for thousands of parcels by using sales to set trends for an area.


The value helps determine your property tax bill.


A “Distressed Sale” is a transaction not considered by the tax assessors to be fair market value. Any low-value sale to avoid foreclosure or a sale by a financial institution can qualify.



Before 2009, assessors “did not count Distresed Sales” in setting values—but now they must—according to Georgia law.



An “Exemption” is basically a tax break for a homeowner. The most common in Georgia is the homestead exemption,” and the amount varies from County to County.


In Gwinnett, for example the standard county homestead exemption is $10,000 and that amount would be deducted from the assessed value for the purpose of calculating your county property taxes—if you claimed (filed for) the exemption in the year after your home purchase by the deadline—which in most counties in Georgia—is March 1st or April 1st. 


If you are a current homeowner and you have not filed for a homestead exemption or other exemptions in which you may be entitled to, be sure to visit your tax office between January and March and you could possibly lower your property taxes some.


A “Fee Appraiser” is a private-sector appraiser and expert in valuing property.


They typically are paid $350 or more to study comparable property sales and estimate the value of a residential property.



A “Mill’ is .01 of one cent (1/10th of 1%) or another way of looking at it—one dollar in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value.



For example, if your house is worth $200,000 (the assessed value at 40% would be $200,000 times .40 equals $80,000) and your mill is .01—so you would owe ($80,000/$1000) equals $80 in property taxes.


In metro Atlanta the millage rate is normally between 20 and 40 mills—generally speaking—with the homestead exemption amount varying by County.


In the above example if your mills were at 20 in the county that you reside you would owe $80 * 20 = $1,600 in taxes on an annual basis for a 200,000 dollar housethe lower end of the spectrum.



In the above example if your mills were at 40 in the county that you reside you would owe $80 * 40 = $3,200 in taxes on an annual basis for a 200,000 dollar housethe higher end of the spectrum.


Now you get the picture.


Your “Millage Rate” is the property tax rate for a jurisdiction. Separate rates are created for county, city and school taxes.


For example, if your house is worth $200,000 and you live in Gwinnett County—and as determined by the county, city, and school board—your millage rate was 39.91 you would owe—$200,000*40% equals $80,000 minus your homestead exemption of $10,000 equals $70,000 times 39.91 equals $2,793,700 divided by 1,000 equals annual taxes of $2,793.70 or $232.81 on a monthly basis.




A “Notice” is a document mailed by the county, usually between April and June. The document states what value the county has set on a property for the current year.



A “Property Tax Return” is a return that details to the County what you think your property is worth.


It is one of two primary methods used to file an appeal in Georgia. It is a less formal method than appealing directly to the Board of Assessors.


Appealing directly to the Board of Assessors is a more formal process and you can choose to appeal directly to them, or use the Property Tax Return.


If you were still unsatisfied with the results from the Property Tax Return you could formally appeal to the Board of Assessors if you chose to do so.


Keep in mind that you don’t have to “file a return” to appeal the County’s value of your property, but if the County accepts your value—it would save you the hassle and possibly cost of a formal appeal.




What You Have Just Learned!




You now know that in Georgia—if you decide to appeal your property tax valuation—you can generally do so by filing a "Property Tax Return" or appealing directly to the "Board of Assessors" office.


You know that you will receive an estimated value of your property—generally between January 1st and April 1st.  At that time if you are unsatisfied with the County estimate you can:




File a "Property Tax Return"




You know that you will receive a "Notice of Current Assessment" (all homeowners in Georgia will receive this "Notice") between April and June—and at that point you can appeal (must do so within 45 days) by filing a:




"Direct Appeal"




You know that a "Property Tax Return" normally costs you nothing and you can complete and submit the form online.


If the value you submit with a "Property Tax Return" is not accepted by the County—you still have the option of a direct appeal once you receive the "Notice of Current Assessment" from the County between April and June.


Again, you would have 45 days in which to appeal the valuation using one (or more) of the options below...


With a "Direct Appeal" you would submit your appeal to the "Board of Assessors"—directly.


If they were unable to resolve the appeal to your satisfaction—you could then appeal to either:




1) the "Board of Equalization" at no charge to you




2) or, agree to "Binding Arbitration" which would require you to get a private appraisal which would have a fee




If they were unable to resolve the appeal to your satisfaction—at either of the appeal levels above—you could then appeal to the "Superior Court" in your County and you would have to pay fees.


About This Article:

 

The above appeal process was explained by Thomas (TJ) Underwood  Thomas (TJ) Underwood is an active real estate broker in the state of Georgia and is the writer behind The Wealth Increaser, Home Buyer 411,  Home Seller 411, The 3 Step Structured Approach to Managing Your Finances, Managing & Improving Your Credit & Finances for this MILLENNIUM and CREDIT & FINANCE IMPROVEMENT MADE EASY—FREE GUIDE. 

He is the creator of TheWealthIncreaser.com where he regularly blogs about helping consumers improve their credit, finance and real estate pursuits in an intelligent, consistent and proactive manner.  He’s always looking for ways to make intelligent finance improvement happen for those who “sincerely desire” success in their future. 

You can contact him from a number of sources but the most direct way is to contact him through the contact us block that can be found at the bottom of this page. 




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Thomas (TJ) Underwood has been providing financial advice as a tax practitioner since the mid 1980’s and began his financial planning career (while earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Finance/Marketing), in Detroit at Wayne State University.  From 2010 up to the present he continues to provide visitors timely personal finance and wealth building advice and articles—including real estate advice—on 3 sites that he has created since 2010. 

Even though he is an active real estate Broker in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, he continues to blog consistently to help visitors and those who desire lasting financial and life changing success the opportunity to change their life for the better in a more efficient way. 

You can learn more about him and gain access to all three sites that he has created by going to Who is the creator of TheWealthIncreaser.com page.







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