Continuing on with the series of posts about SB 346 and changes to Georgia property tax law, here are a few miscellaneous items.
All assessment notices state-wide will all be on a uniform notice called PT 306 by the Department of Revenue. There will also be a uniform appeal form called PT 311 by the revenuers, but it is not mandatory that you use this appeal format. I have not found any links to these forms available for general consumption so I think they are still being finalized.
It used to be that only the owner on January 1 could appeal for that tax year. Now, whoever is the owner as of the last date to appeal is able to appeal the assessment.
If you are not satisfied with the result of your appeal to the Board of Tax Assessors, you can still appeal to the Board of Equalization, Arbitration, or a new Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will hear arguments on value and uniformity for non-homestead (not owner-occupied and receiving an exemption) properties with values greater than $1 million.
At any time during the appeal process (prior to circuit court) if you get a written value agreement signed with the assessors it will be subject to 299C of the tax code which means that if you don't sell the property or change it in any way the value will be kept (frozen) for three years.
Georgia Senate Bill 346 included many changes to the property tax law. Last time I addressed this subject I discussed the changes to the fair market value definition. The change discussed was the inclusion of distressed sales as comparable sales that must be considered.
SB 346 also mandates that a recent sale shall be considered the fair market value: The transaction amount of the most recent arm's length., bona fide sale in any year shall be the maximum allowable fair market value for the next taxable year.
So, if you bought your property in 2010 for $500,000 the maximum fair market value estimate the assessor can put on it for tax year 2011 is $500,000 which is a $200,000 assessment (40%).
The transaction amount can be adjusted for the following reasons:
1. Personal property included in the sale price
2. New improvements after the sale date
3. Additions to existing improvements after the sale date
4. Major remodeling/renovation after the sale
5. Land adjustments due to consolidations, zoning changes, etc.
Nothing in SB 346 says the assessors have to appraise your property for the sale price, just not above the sale price. If the assessors put your 100% market value at the sale price start looking at your neighbor's/competitior's assessments. Did they use the sale of your property to adjust the entire market area, or just your property? Equity is a valid argument when appealing your assessment in Georgia.
Last year the Georgia Legislature based Senate Bill 346 which was signed by the Governor. This sweeping change to property tax law was in response to what was seen as stonewalling on the part of assessors to address the collapse of the real estate market. Today I would like to address the changes to the Taxpayer's Return of Real Property.
The return of real property for taxation is a somewhat antiquated way of collecting data for real estate assessment purposes. The idea is to force property owners to let the assessor know what property attributes have changed over the course of a calendar year so the assessors can update their records and property values. The assessors can penalize you for not returning improvements to real property in a timely manner. However, during my four years working for the Fulton County Tax Assessors I never heard of anyone being penalized for not returning improvements to real property. The assessor's office is supposed to get copies of all building permits, which prompts them to visit the properties and correct the property description.
The Taxpayer's Return of Real Property form (PT-50R) was also used to generate an assessment notice. If you returned a value that the assessors did not agree with, they had to send you an assessment notice at their value that you could appeal. This was important because the way the Georgia property tax law read, you had to receive a notice before you could appeal in any tax year.
Apparently, the legislature considered striking the return of real property out of the tax code, but in the end they left it in. They did require, however, that every property owner receive a Georgia notice of assessment every year starting in 2011. That ends the need to file a real property return just so you can initiate an appeal, but leaves in the requirement that you do the assessor's job and tell them about the changes to your property (that they should already know about).