Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lowndes County tax assessors challenge state law

The Supreme Court of Georgia has heard arguments in a case that could affect property valuations of low-income housing units statewide.

The Lowndes County board of tax assessors want to be able to factor in income tax credits when assessing the value of low-income housing properties. In other words, the assessor wants to increase the property assessment because the income tax credits that are tied to the property which increases the potential resale value of such housing units. 

An apartment complex owner that rents to low-income tenants in Valdosta says that the benefits of these tax credits should not be factored under the appraiser's methodology. Attorneys for the owner say that income tax credits are intangible benefits and should not be co-mingled with the assessment of tangible property.

Existing state law prohibits assessors from considering income tax credits in their assessments. The Lowndes County assessors are challenging that law arguing that it violates the state constitutional requirement for uniformity in assessments.  They assert that, similar to rent, income tax breaks make the property more desirable, resulting in a higher fair market value. Assessors are required to consider factors that affect the fair market value. The assessors' attorneys further note that voters rejected a constitutional amendment on the same subject in 2002.

This is a complex case. It will be interesting to see how the Georgia Supreme Court rules.

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