Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Court clerk explains new appeals process

Rockdale County clerk of courts Ruth Wilson recently wrote a piece in the Newton Citizen describing the practical implications of House Bill 202 on property appeals.  The way she explains it is a bit clearer than the law itself!  Take a look:
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.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DeKalb County tax bills going out this week

The DeKalb County tax commissioner’s office says that their annual property tax bills will be mailed out this Saturday. Here’s a notice from their website:
Please note that the 2015 DeKalb County Tax Statements will be mailed out August 15th. This website will be updated with the 2015 tax amounts and copies of the bills at that time. The 2015 installment deadlines will be September 30th and November 15th. If you intend on making a single payment, payment must be received by the September 30th deadline in order to avoid receiving a 5% late fee. Properties under appeal at the time the statements are mailed are billed at a lower value until the appeal is completed. 

DeKalb’s bills are separate from the City of Decatur’s 2nd installment property tax bills which will be mailed out on October 20 and will be due by December 21, 2015.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Former lawmaker calls for constitutional cap on tax assessments

Former state representative Ed Lindsey recently wrote that, “The General Assembly needs to put a constitutional amendment to limit property tax assessments on the ballot in 2016” in a Peach Pundit blog post. Mr. Lindsey is calling for “limiting annual increases to no more than 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield made a similar proposal a couple of weeks ago for a 2.4 percent cap on annual assessment increases.