Because of the real estate slump of the past two years, the fair market value of most properties has decreased (dramatically in some cases). However, the “assessed” value of most properties by the county tax assessor has not decreased. Thus, homeowners are now paying property taxes on assessed values much higher than the fair market value of their property. To remedy this situation, homeowners need to appeal the assessed value of their property with their county tax assessor.
To begin the appeal process, the property owner must file a Property Tax Return with their county tax assessor (you should check with your local tax assessor’s office to determine the deadline each year to file such return). The Property Tax Return is typically a one-page document wherein the homeowner states what they believe to be the fair market value of the property. The county will then provide written notification whether it accepts or denies the homeowner’s request for a change in assessment. If denied, the homeowner has a limited number of days (typically 45 days) to appeal the denial and to provide written evidence to support the appeal request.
Appeals are heard before the Board of Equalization (BOE) which consists of a three member panel. Property owners may appeal their assessed value due to taxability, uniformity or value. In order to make the appeal more effective, the homeowner should provide written documentation to support their position. This documentation could consist of the following:
A market analysis of comparable properties recently sold in your neighborhood which can be obtained by a realtor.
A recent property appraisal of the subject property.
The county tax reports for comparable properties in your neighborhood with the same quality
construction, similar land size and square feet of living area, number of bedrooms, basement, etc.
The hearing at the BOE is an informal affair wherein the homeowner provides their proof of decreased value while the tax assessor provides evidence supporting the county’s position. The BOE will then render a decision based on the evidence. If the BOE denies the appeal, the homeowner could still appeal to the Superior Court and receive a jury trial. However, at that point, the homeowner may want to engage an attorney to assist.
In today’s market, homeowners may continue to pay higher county taxes unless they are proactive and appeal their county tax assessment. The process, prior to superior court, is not that difficult or costly and could save the homeowner quite a bit of money.
Brent Warren is a partner in the law firm of McLain & Merritt, P.C., a mid-size firm that has been in business over fifty years. He has been practicing law since 1992 and specializes in both residential and commercial real estate. Brent is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law and the University of Kentucky (B.S. Accounting). His clients include real estate agents, loan officers, builders, developers and relocation companies. He lives and works in Alpharetta, Georgia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Van Purser and his wife Jeanne are a licensed Real Estate Brokers in Georgia. Since1984 they successfully purchased and renovated over 400 homes. Their expertise is in representing Buyers or Sellers as an advocate; which means always ensuring their best interest. Additionally, they represented hundreds of clients over the years as an Associate Broker with Metro Brokers, RE/Max and now with his own firm. He and his wife, Jeanne, have been married since 1977. Van or Jeanne can be reached at 770-623-3313, or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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