Georgia Property Tax Law Changes

Posted by Daniel Jones on Feb 23, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Georgia House Bill 202 was passed and signed by the Governor in May of 2015. The bill is in full force and effect starting in tax year 2016. This article addresses some of the changes that have the biggest impact on the property tax appeal process. 

One of the features about the property tax law in Georgia that taxpayers like to take advantage of is a section of the law referred to as "299C". This is the code section that says that if a property tax appeal is settled at the Board of Equalization or Superior Court then the tax assessors cannot increase the value for two more years. There has been an addition to the law such that the assessment "freeze" is invalid in the following cases:

"This subsection shall not apply to a valuation established by an appeal decision if the taxpayer or his or her authorized representative failed to attend the appeal hearing or provide the board of equalization, hearing officer, or arbitrator with some written evidence supporting the taxpayer's opinion of value."

In the past, some people that were satisfied with their property tax assessment, but wanted the value frozen, would simply appeal to the board of equalization and not appear. The board would rule on the side of the county, but it was still a board decision and subject to 299C. With the changes to the tax law this is no longer possible. 

In the past when you filed an appeal you didn't have to assert a value. The Georgia Department of Revenue now has a uniform appeal form for use by all of the counties, and there is a field for the taxpayers value. The tax law now reads "Such uniform appeal form shall require the initial assertion of a valuation of the property by the taxpayer."

However it goes on to say that "Any assertion of value by the taxpayer on the uniform appeal form made to the board of tax assessors shall be subject to later amendment or revision by the taxpayer by submission of written evidence to the board of tax assessors." As a result, you can put whatever value you want on the appeal form and then change it later.

Another change to the property tax law pertains to the evidence presented at appeal hearings. In the past you could bring whatever you wanted to the hearing and the county would bring whatever they wanted too. The board or hearing officer would hear both sides and render a decision. Now the county and the taxpayer can request the evidence to be presented prior to the formal hearing. It reads as follows:

"Such written notice shall advise each party that he or she may request a list of witnesses, documents, or other written evidence to be presented at the hearing by the other party, which shall be provided to the requesting party not less than seven days prior to the time of the hearing." 

Now this is a real problem in my opinion. Personally I don't want the county to know what I am going to present to the board of equalization. I don't want the county to have time to build a case against the evidence I want to present. Of course this new rule gives us time to pick apart the county's case as well, but this is an extra step that I don't necessarily want to take. It remains to be seen whether the counties will take advantage of this and start requesting hearing evidence from taxpayers prior to hearings. This is an additional expense that I can't imagine most counties want to adopt. 

There are other changes to the property tax law, such as reducing the cost to file your appeal to superior court to $25, but the main points regarding tax appeals have been covered here. If you need help with your property tax appeal contact Atlanta's property tax appeal consultants Fair Assessments, LLC.


Topics: tax assessment

property tax appeals

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