Thursday, March 5, 2015

HB 202 would modify assessment and appeal provisions

Georgia House Bill 202 would make several changes to existing property tax law especially regarding assessments and appeals, along with some routine housekeeping edits to the state revenue code. The House passed the bill on Feb. 20 with only one dissenting vote. The 37-page bill is divided into nine sections summarized as follows:
  • Section 1 gives taxpayers the option of requesting bills and delinquent notices by email. 
  • Section 2 shortens the public notice period before school millage rate adoption from two weeks to one week. 
  • Section 3 allows notices of interest due to be sent by email upon taxpayer request. 
  • Section 4 extends the deadline for counties to submit their tax digests to the state until September 1 rather than the current August 1 due date. 
  • Section 5 would relax current parameters for two or more counties that wish to consolidate their property appraisal departments through intergovernmental agreements. 
  • Section 6 would strike the penalties involved for not filing a return for real property. Penalties for unreturned personal property would remain in effect. 
  • Section 7 extends the deadline for county boards of assessors to review property returns by two weeks. 
  • Section 8 and 9 provide several changes to the appeals process including additional authorities vested in the clerk of superior court over appeals, changes to serving on a board of equalization, changes to the accrual of interest on appeals, new nonbinding arbitration procedures, and other tweaks to existing appeals procedures.  Section 9 is the largest and most complicated section of the bill. 
The bill is currently under review by the state senate. The Georgia Municipal Association’s position on this bill is “neutral.”  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's legislative tracker gives HB 202 a 77 percent chance of passing this session.

Historically there tends to be one “big” legislative proposal every year at the General Assembly involving property assessments or appeals. As of now, HB 202 appears to be the only bill fitting that description this session. The changes proposed in the bill do not appear to be as sweeping as those presented by SB 293 which died in the House last year.

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