Dekalb County calculates property taxes with an annual assessment. This will be delivered to your home, usually in the spring of each year, allowing you to see what you should pay for the current year. In most cases, people look at these assessments and then put them aside without much of a second thought.
What if you were told that a lot of tax assessments are incorrect? Even something as simple as a 2% increase from the previous year might be too high, if the wrong information was used or if there was an error along the way. So many people don’t realize that they have the right to file an appeal, and even more just assume that it requires too much time and effort without the same level of return.
The reality is that appealing property tax assessments is a right that all taxpayers have under the legislation for the assessment process. Your tax assessor or Dekalb County tax office won’t hold appeals against property owners or retaliate in any way, because they understand that their system isn’t always perfect. The appeals process is also fairly simple, so long as you’ve got an organized system of information about your property to reference along the way.
Here are five tips to help you get through the appeals process, whether you found a huge mistake or are just curious as to whether you can get a lower tax rate.
#1: Look at your assessment as soon as it arrives.
Most states and counties have a 45-day limit on appeals. That means that you have up to 45 days from the time that you receive your assessment (or in some cases, from the date of the assessment) to appeal the tax amount that you have been given for your property. Some counties have a date-specific deadline each year, as opposed to a specific time limit.
As soon as your assessment is delivered, you should look it over thoroughly. Compare it to last year’s assessment (if you have it available) and make sure there are no glaring errors or omissions. The good news is that Dekalb County will include a year-to-year change line on your assessment so that you can see what your taxes are this year compared to last year. This is the easiest way to identify major increases (or decreases) that may be cause for concern.
A careful review of your assessment could also identify errors in property valuation, tax rates, the different types of taxes charged from various authorities, and other information that is presented on the assessment report. Your property description could even affect your tax rates, so make sure that all information on the assessment is accurate to the best of your knowledge. Make a note of anything you aren’t sure about or any errors you find.
#2: Find your own comps to compare neighborhood values.
A large part of property valuation involves using comparable sales of homes in your neighborhood to determine what your property is worth. The two most critical elements in a comparable listing are the price and the square footage. If you can find comps that demonstrate that your property taxes or valuation are out of line with the other homes in your neighborhood, then you may be able to appeal based on an incorrect property value or poor comps assessment.
Working with a tax valuation expert to appeal your tax assessment makes this step easy. These professionals not only understand the valuation process, but they have access to all of the market data and other real property data collected by assessors to determine tax values. They’ll make sure that you have apples-to-apples comparisons so that you get the most accurate valuation possible.
#3: Hire an expert in property valuation to assist with your appeal.
The Dekalb County property tax assessment appeals process is fairly simple, which leads a lot of people to just go it alone because it’s cheaper and easier than trying to find someone to help. This is a bad assumption. It may cost less because you aren’t paying someone to represent you, but you may not be getting the best outcome without their support, so you may end up costing yourself more in the long run by trying to take on your own appeal.
It also is much easier to work with a professional tax and property evaluation specialist. It takes no time at all to find a reputable company to work with, and then you can let them take care of everything throughout the appeals process for you. This not only takes the work off of your plate, but it gives you peace of mind that they are covering all of the bases and making sure that you have the best chance of getting a ruling in your favor to lower your property tax bill.
#4: Get to know the Dekalb County online property record website.
All property owners can request a copy of their property tax card from their assessor’s office. However, these days, you can also look up a property record online and get a comprehensive overview of everything from the tax records to the land sketch, sales, and more. This should be your first stop when you realize that there is an issue with your property taxes or the valuation methods and statistics used.
You can search for properties by address, owner name, or parcel ID. Look up your property and go through the entire online record to ensure accurate and complete information. If you find anything that is cause for concern, make a note of it so that you can talk it over with your valuation specialist.
#5: Look for exemptions that you might qualify for that could lower property tax.
Religious and governmental organizations aren’t the only ones who qualify for exemptions to tax obligations. Some common exemptions available to property owners include:
● Disability-related exemptions
● Seniors and veterans
● Agricultural properties
● Homestead exemptions
If you feel like your Dekalb County property tax assessment isn’t right, give us a call. At Fair-Assessments.com, we can review your assessment and help you determine the best course of action, including a potential cap on your taxable property value if your appeal is awarded in your favor.