Thursday, June 2, 2016

DeKalb assessment notices to be sent June 3

DeKalb County assesses the values of all properties in the county and its cities. Per state law, counties are required to mail out assessment notices annually. DeKalb will mail out their assessment notices on June 3. The notice will advise you of your property value for 2016. I encourage all property owners to pay extremely close attention to the figures and deadlines on the notice. The 2016 value will be the basis of your DeKalb County property tax bill in the fall and, for Decatur property owners, your 2nd installment tax bill for 2016. 

Here are a few tips for reading your assessment notice. Assuming that the county formats it like previous years, your 100 percent value for 2016 will appear toward the center of the notice. That’s what you want to look at first. If the value doesn’t seem right to you, think about whether you could sell your property for that amount. If you conclude that the assessment does not accurately reflect market value, you may consider appealing. You will see the appeal deadline printed toward the top of the bill, which is 45 days from the date of the notice. (It will probably say July 18.) DeKalb warns, “If you do not file an appeal by this date, your right to file an appeal will be lost. Late appeals will not be processed.” If you don’t receive a paper notice for each of your properties, you should be able to access notices on DeKalb’s property appraisal website.

If you have questions about your assessment or the appeal process, call DeKalb County. Toward the middle of the notice, right above the “grid” area, you should see the names and phone numbers of staff contacts who can assist you with questions about your assessment. Your best bet is to call the staff contacts on your notice because they have the expertise for the location and the classification of your property. (If you’re going in person, note that the assessors have moved out of the their old location in the Callaway Building to their new location at the Maloof Building, 1300 Commerce Drive in Decatur, where the water department used to be.) Please keep in mind that the City of Decatur is unable to answer questions about the values DeKalb determined.

At the bottom of the notice you’ll see estimates for property taxes for the year. However, the estimates are based on last year’s millage rates because this year’s have not been approved yet. You will also see a disclaimer that “City exemptions may not be included in this estimate.” Decatur exemptions definitely will not be included in the estimate on your assessment notice. Decatur maintains its own homestead exemptions and exemption data. DeKalb does not know how Decatur’s exemptions affect city bills for individual homeowners. To get a more accurate projection, pull out your Decatur tax bill from the 2nd installment of 2015. Look at the amount of tax savings due to homestead exemptions. Take that amount and subtract it from the city estimate on the assessment notice for 2016. If you have homestead exemptions with the City of Decatur, your actual bill in the fall of 2016 will be lower than what DeKalb estimates for your city taxes.

Please be aware that the current assessment notice no bearing on your property tax bill in 2015 or the city's 1st installment bill of 2016. Decatur’s 1st installment property tax bills are always based on the prior year’s value (your 2015 value). The assessment notice for 2016 does not change the value on your 1st installment 2016 city bill, and it does not change the amount that was due yesterday, June 1. Decatur’s 2nd installment trues up the total amount due for the year based on your final value and whatever millage rates are approved before the billing in October.

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