If you’ve been reading up on tax assessments, you’ve likely heard a lot about GA tax assessors. These are the individuals who are tasked with determining property tax values and delivering the results to taxpayers and property owners throughout the state. They will be members of the local or county government office and will be responsible for a number of duties related to property valuation and taxation, including doling out the annual tax assessments and taking on any appeals filed by property owners.
What is a Tax Assessment?
Property assessments are typically done every year or three years, depending on the county guidelines set forth. Assessors will be assigned to evaluate every piece of real property in the county and determine its value. That value is based on property data, market data, and the current real estate market. These assessments are also performed on new construction, transfers of ownership (as required), and in the event that a property owner appeals their original assessment.
An assessment is just an itemized statement that shows you the value of your property and the local tax rates for the current year, along with what your total annual (or half-year, in some cases) taxes will be. Once the assessor has compiled all of the different property values and data that they need, they will add it to the assessment roll, which is just the master list of real property for the county or specific jurisdiction.
How Do Assessors Determine Value?
In Georgia, property is typically valued using the market approach. An assessor does have three different options to calculate the value of any real property so that an assessed value can be determined and a tax rate can be set.
Market Approach: In Georgia, this is the primary method used for valuing properties for the purpose of taxation. The market approach looks at recent comparable sales in the area and uses that information to determine property value.
Used for: residential, vacant, and agricultural property
Cost Approach: This is also considered, and typically used to determine a replacement value for a property in the event of a total loss. The cost approach looks at the actual costs of labor and materials to replace the entire structure or all structures on the property.
Used for: special purpose and utility property
Income Approach: In the case of commercial income properties, this approach will be used. The assessor will look at operating expenses, maintenance costs, insurance, financing terms, and the potential property earnings to determine a value.
Used for: commercial rental properties or businesses
In Georgia, tax assessors utilize a Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) program that helps analyze and estimate information for multiple properties at a time.
There are some states where an assessor will come to the property to do a visual inspection and estimate. In other states, the valuation may be based on the most recent appraisal on file, or simply based on photos and statistics.
What if the Assessor is Wrong?
There are certainly instances when GA tax assessors make mistakes or may complete an assessment with missing or misinformation. The mass appraisal system makes things easier and allows for a more efficient and streamlined assessment and taxation solution for property taxes. However, it is not without occasional flaws. If you feel like your tax assessment might be a little off, you’re certainly not alone.
You also don’t have to just pay the bill. In fact, if you’re not sure about anything on your tax assessment, you should hold off on paying anything. Most counties give you 45 days to file an appeal if you think that there is an error in your property tax assessment. You can use that time to gather your information, find a professional valuation expert to help you through the appeals process, and determine whether you actually have a situation where you should file an appeal.
The appeals process is a fairly straightforward one. It is also a right of all taxpayers and the tax office and other authorities realize that. If you’re worried that you might be hit with more taxes or given some kind of difficulty because you’re filing an appeal, this won’t be an issue. Legally, they are not allowed to bother you at all.
When you are ready to file your appeal, you’ll have to make sure that you have documents or information to support your claim or fix the issues that you found. For example, if you have a more recent appraisal that gives the correct description of your home and the older description was used for tax purposes, you will want to show that to the tax office so that they can reassess your property. Keep in mind, of course, that if you have made improvements, your taxes will more than likely go up.
Can I File My Own Appeal?
Anyone can file an appeal on their tax assessment, no matter what their concerns may be. The state of Georgia has done its best to provide a variety of information and resources for people who need to file an appeal on their property tax assessment. While you can file an appeal on your own, it’s not generally recommended.
You aren’t familiar with tax valuations or property taxes, which can make it difficult for you to succeed in getting the outcome that you deserve. Property taxes can be especially confusing and you need to make sure that you have the right people on your side. A professional tax valuation expert will be much better suited to help you get the outcome that you deserve.
At Fair-Assessments.com, we have a team of property tax specialists waiting to help. We understand the tax laws and the real estate market and know how to make sure that your property gets the correct assessment so that you aren’t paying more than you should. If you’re thinking about challenging your local tax assessor’s decision, let us help you.