Are you paying too much in Property Taxes? If you’ve asked yourself this question recently, more than likely the answer could be yes. If you haven’t given the subject much thought and trust your local county government, I’d be willing to bet my next commission check that the answer is definitely YES!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, everyone is aware that home values have dropped significantly over the past 5 years reverting back to values seen prior to 2003-2004. The decrease varies from 13 – 34% depending on where you live and when you first purchased your current home. Regardless, the effects have been far reaching.
One of the biggest impacts has been to our County Governments who are strapped for cash. Sales tax and property tax revenues are down across the board and County assessors are either reducing assessments begrudgingly or not at all without a fight. Subsequently, it’s going to be up to you to challenge the County to get your assessment adjusted, just don’t expect it to be easy.
Most Counties have a rather complex process for adjusting property values and hope they’ll wear you down in the process and give up. It’s worth the slight inconvenience, especially given the fact that failure to act can result in even higher Property Taxes. This happens when the county adjusts or raises it’s millage rate to account for falling values. The millage rate is the calculation (per thousand) used to calculate your property taxes based on 40% of your homes current market value.
Unfortunately, the drop in revenues does not provide the County any incentive to make adjustments. Accordingly, it’s also important to note that it would be physically impossible for the county to re-appraise every home each year without adequate resources. So – what’s next ?
First, be on the lookout for your homes Property Tax Assessment from the County. These are sent out at different times. I’ve included the approximate distribution dates from various Atlanta area Counties below for your reference.
Dekalb County- Sent out mid May
Forsyth County – Sent out April 15th
Fulton County – Sent out the end of April
Gwinnett County – Sent out April 15th
Hall County – Sent out the end of April
Once you receive your notice, review it for accuracy. Professional appraisers find inaccurate information all the time on previous Tax Assessments so be relentless in your review. Even so, it may be difficult to ascertain exactly what your home is worth today. Your best defense during the appeal process is to collect accurate and valid data to support your case. You may need to obtain recent sales data for your neighborhood – or – more importantly, hire the services of a Certified Real Estate appraiser. This information can and should be sent along with your appeal for review.
You only have 45 days to file a written appeal with your counties Board of Tax Assessors so don’t delay! It could take up to 180 days for a decision to be made. If you’re not satisfied with the results of your request, there are several options to pursue including an appeal process through the Board of Equalization or an Arbitration hearing so don’t give up.