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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is Your “Fair Market Value” Not Fair? How to Appeal Your Home Value for Tax Purposes

As a real estate attorney, I am frequently asked questions about how ad valorem taxes relate to home value, and what to do if you believe your home value - and therefore the amount of tax due - is inaccurate.  Referred to as “ad valorem taxes,” these taxes are collected by your local county tax commissioner and the amount due is based on what is deemed the fair market value of your home multiplied by the local tax, or millage, rate. 

The passage of House Bill 202 (HB 202) passed by the Georgia Legislature has resulted in a few changes in how home owners can appeal if they believe the county’s assessment of their home value is incorrect.  Some of the changes are beneficial to property owners, such as the reduction or elimination of select filing fees.  Also, taxpayers who own multiple properties can now benefit from a more streamlined process that allows them to consolidate appeals to the board of equalization, arbitration or a hearing officer into one hearing, and appeals to the superior court from consolidated hearings now result in one civil action.

While HB 202 does not drastically affect the general appeal process, there are some important changes to the timeline that affect whether an appeal is even considered.  The first step in the process remains the same: homeowners receive an ad valorem tax assessment in the mail labeled "This is not a bill."   This initial mailer is notification of how the county has calculated your ad valorem taxes, and shows the amount determined as the fair market value for your home. Although no action is required at this point in the process, homeowners who wish to file an appeal need to act when this ad valorem assessment is received and not wait until they get the actual bill.  Homeowners who wish to file an appeal need to act within 45 days of the date the tax assessors issue the annual assessment notice.  By the time the actual tax bill has been received, it is too late to file an appeal.   

In accordance with new deadlines set within HB 202, the taxpayer and tax assessors should also participate in a mandatory settlement conference within 75 days of the notice of appeal has been filed – a new deadline designed to keep appeals moving through the process.   

An appeal can be filed by the homeowner, an attorney or another agent/legal representative of the property owner.  Many homeowners opt to work with an experienced, local real estate attorney who is familiar with the process, can readily file the necessary paperwork within deadline - such as the new optional appeal form available in 2016 which gives taxpayers the opportunity to submit what they believe to be the true value of their property early in the process.  A real estate attorney can also represent the property owner at the mandatory settlement conference. 

Do you have questions about your ad valorem taxes or how HB 202 has affected the appeal process?  Contact experienced real estate attorney Scott Mayfield at smayfield@smithwelchlaw.com or call 770-358-3630.

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


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Smith Welch Webb & White serve clients throughout the south metro Atlanta area including but not limited to McDonough, Stockbridge, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Peach County, Jonesboro, Spalding County, Butts County, and Lamar County.



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