Home values have been down since the housing bubble burst. So, you may feel cheated when your home is being appraised at higher values than before for property taxes. How can the value of your home be increasing when you can’t even sell it for a reduced price? You can check listings at MLS and the National Association of Realtors to try and get an estimate of the real market value of your house. If you do find a discrepancy, you have the right to fight the appraisal and potentially lower your property taxes.
The value of property in Fulton is determined by the Fulton County Board of Assessors. You may appeal your assessment if you believe that it does not reflect fair market value. A series of Atlanta Journal Constitution articles found that residential property appraisals were consistently overvalued in the greater Atlanta area. They were 7% over in Fulton, 10% in DeKalb, 13% in Cobb, 16% in Gwinnett and 29% in Clayton. With the combination of declining property values, increased Homestead Exemptions and increased utilization of government services from the recession, governments are struggling to find revenue. An inflated property tax can go a long way.
If you do decide to appeal, there are three ways you can go about it. You can appeal to the County Board of Equalization, a Hearing Officer or an Arbitrator. Usually the process takes between 8 and 12 months. Once you receive your Notice of Assessment, which includes the appraisal value, you have 45 days to alert the county that you intend to appeal, using a state wide form. A few months later, you will receive either a denial or a new offer. If it was denied, then it will go to the Board of Equalization. If you receive a new offer, you can accept or deny it. Keep in mind though, the new rate will only be good for one year, and you may see an increase the next year.
You will receive a notice of a hearing date before the Board of Equalization three weeks before the hearing date. There are organizations such as the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation that will help you with your hearing. The Board of Equalization will render a decision, which may be appealed to Superior Court. If you get a new rate through the Board of Equalization, under state law it is locked in for two years after the decision.
Appealing to a Hearing Officer can only be done with non-homestead real property, and only when the value is greater than $1,000,000. Appealing to an Arbitrator requires a certified appraisal of the property. The ruling of an Arbitrator cannot be appealed, and the taxpayer is responsible for any court fees.
While your case is being processed, you will still have to pay the property tax. You will receive a Temporary Tax bill with a value set the higher of your return value or 85% of the value proposed by the Board of Tax Assessors. A refund or adjusted bill will be paid after the appeal is resolved, depending on the ruling.
MLS Multiple Listing Service Directories: http://www.mls.com/
National Association of Realtors Research Reports: http://www.realtor.org/research-and-statistics/research-reports
The Atlanta Journal Constitution Home Values Appeals Tricky: http://www.ajc.com/news/home-value-appeals-tricky-1448360.html
Georgia Department of Revenue How to Appeal a Property Tax Assessment: https://etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/adm/taxguide/appeals.aspx
Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation: http://fctf.org/index.php?pr=How_To_Appeal
Fulton County Tax Commissioner: https://fultoncountytaxes.org/fultoniwr/01_depts_tax_comm.asp