Wednesday, September 16, 2015

State senator pitches a cap on property assessments

In 2014, Sen. Fran Millar sponsored Senate Bill 293 to change procedures for appealing property values. That bill did not pass the state house. In 2015, Millar revisited the issue House Bill 202, which incorporated some proposals from the bill the prior year. HB 202 passed both chambers of the General Assembly and signed by the governor. 

For 2016, Millar says he’ll make another proposal for more reforms to assessments and appeals. He intends to prohibit boards of equalization from increasing property assessments based on information found by assessors while the property is under appeal.

Millar also says that, “we need to look at a cap on how much an assessment can increase in a given year.” Similar comments have been made by former state representative Ed Lindsey and Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield. They floated caps on assessment increases anywhere from 2 to 3 percent a year, while Millar has not specified a percentage.

Here’s what Millar wrote in an op-ed for the AJC a few weeks ago:
First, a Board of Tax Assessors cannot change a person’s tax assessment once it is published. One county is telling its Board of Equalization — the panel you face at an appeal hearing — that it has the power to raise a taxpayer’s assessment if evidence is presented that justifies such an increase. This needs to be prohibited by statute.
Second, one county is threatening to send letters to taxpayers that if they pursue an appeal, the Board of Equalization may increase the assessment without limitation. The taxpayer would be given a notice to sign and return if they wish to withdraw their appeal. This attempt to kill appeals also needs to be prohibited by statute. 
Third, we need to look at a cap on how much an assessment can increase in a given year. I am not sure what the correct percentage should be, but discussion needs to take place on this topic. Your thoughts are welcome.

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