Georgia legislators this year amended laws governing procedures for appealing county tax assessments on real and personal property. The changes took effect July 1.
In 2011, the clerk of Superior Court was mandated by law to provide oversight, administration and administrative assistance to the county Board of Equalization (BOE). This year, those provisions were amended, designating the clerk of Superior Court as the “appeal administrator” for the BOE and requiring the clerk to provide administrative and clerical services necessary for taxpayers to appeal decisions of the Board of Tax Assessors (BOA) affecting taxation of real and personal property...
Upon receiving the taxpayer’s notice of appeal, the BOA reviews its preliminary assessment to determine whether a correction or amendment is merited. If changes or corrections are made, the board sends a notice to the taxpayer and, if the taxpayer concurs, the appeal is dismissed and the new assessed value used for taxation purposes. Taxpayers who disagree with any changes made are required to notify the BOA within 30 days of the date the notice of change was mailed.
The BOA then has up to 90 days from the date of receipt of the taxpayer’s notice of appeal to review it and notify the taxpayer of any corrections or changes. The property valuation asserted by the taxpayer on a property-tax return or notice of appeal becomes the assessed fair-market value of the property for the tax year under appeal if the BOA fails to respond within this period. If no valuation was submitted by the taxpayer, the appeal proceeds to the BOE, which requires the BOA to forward the notice of appeal to the appeal administrator (i.e., the clerk of Superior Court) for scheduling on the BOE hearing calendar.
Within 15 days after receipt of the notice of appeal, the appeal administrator sets a date for a hearing within 30 days of the date of notification — but not earlier than 20 days — and notifies the taxpayer and BOA of the date and time for the hearing. If more than one property is under appeal, the BOE is required to consolidate the appeals in one hearing upon the request of the taxpayer.
Alternatively, the taxpayer may appeal some assessments or issues to an arbitrator or a hearing officer (for non-homestead real property with a fair-market value in excess of $750,000 and any contiguous non-homestead real property owned by the same taxpayer or for one or more wireless properties with a value of more than $750,000).
The process is much like a civil court hearing. The taxpayer and assessors’ board staff are required to present evidence relating to the issue on appeal, i.e., taxability, uniformity of assessment, value or denial of homestead exemption. The taxpayer has the option of presenting evidence first or waiting until assessors’ board staff concludes its presentation. Each party is typically allowed 10 minutes to present its case. The standard used for deciding issues is a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the party with the most convincing evidence prevails. The assessors’ board has the burden of proof for issues involving taxability but, with respect to an issue over tax exemption, the taxpayer has the burden. Either party has the right to respond to the other party’s evidence on any issue and to cross-examine all witnesses...
In Decatur, all values are determined and all appeals are handled by DeKalb County.