In Gwinnett County, property tax rates are among the lowest in the state. Rather than being represented by a standard percent, most property taxes are given millage rates based on the county where the property resides. For Gwinnett County, that number has floated steadily around 7.4 mills, with some fluctuation, over the past five years. Of course, that number matters less since it is standardized than the value of the property being taxed in the first place.
Here’s how property tax calculations work:
- The property’s resale/fair market value is determined.
- The assessed value is calculated as 40% of the market value.
- Ex.: A property has a market value of $250,000. The assessed value would be $100,000.
3. Taxes are calculated based on the assessment ratio, which is multiplied by the mill rate to determine the amount of taxes the property should be liable for.
- The mill rate of 7.4 is multiplied by 1,000 to make it a decimal: 0.074
- The assessment rate is converted to decimal form: 0.40
0.074 x 0.40 = 0.0296 (This is your property tax rate)
- Multiply the assessed value by the tax rate:
$100,000 x 0.0296 = $2,960 (This is the property tax amount you pay)
Although it seems pretty straightforward, this math isn’t usually where problems happen. Most assessments that are found to have errors will have some kind of issue with property valuation or assessment values in the first place, which means the wrong numbers were used to determine the property taxes owed.
How to Reduce Your Property Tax Liability
The first thing to note is that you don’t have to find a blatantly obvious mistake on your property tax assessment in order to file an appeal. The more apparent an issue is, the easier it will be to have resolved in your favor. However, even if you just feel like you could probably get a lower tax bill just by having someone look into the assessment, it’s usually worth a try. You can even take some steps on your own to ensure that you aren’t overpaying for property taxes.
Look for Tax Exemptions
There are a number of property tax exemptions available to taxpayers in Gwinnett County. It is up to you to know what they are and whether you qualify, though. The tax assessor’s office doesn’t have time to do this for everyone. The most common exemptions include:
● Senior School Tax Exemption: 100% exemption from all Board of Education taxes, covers the home and up to one acre of land for owners over age 65.
● Homestead Exemption: Available for protection from tax increases related to property value for the home and five acres of property.
● Value Offset Exemption: Applied with the homestead exemption.
● Regular School Exemption: Available to low-income residents over age 62.
● Disabled Veteran Exemption: Available to service members with a service-related disability.
● Disability Exemption: Available to those who are 100% permanently and totally disabled, reduces taxes from the County, bond, school, and other authorities.
In addition to these, there are exemptions available for surviving spouses of peace officers, veterans or military members, and other unique exemptions for seniors and homestead-related tax breaks.
Be a Nosy Neighbor
Part of property valuation includes checking comps, or comparable homes in the same neighborhood, to determine an overall property value based on recent sales and market data. If you take a little time to explore comps in your area on your own, or with the help of a valuation expert, you might find that some estimates were calculated incorrectly or that there is missing information.
If your neighbor’s house is 500 square feet smaller and doesn’t have the same attached two-car garage, it shouldn’t be valued higher than your home unless it has some special feature that’s worth it. Remember, though, that comps are supposed to be “apples to apples” comparisons. While you might be able to notice obvious variances in property values that don’t make sense, you can’t really get a sense of how your home stacks up to the others in the neighborhood unless they are similar in square footage and recent sales prices. Assessors may not have all of the information necessary to pull the right comps, but you can review them for yourself and make sure everything adds up. If it doesn’t you might be eligible for a lower tax bill or a value cap.
Go Over Property Details
Something as simple as your home being listed as having four bedrooms instead of the three it actually has can cost you a lot in terms of taxes. Instantly, your home will now be compared to all four-bedroom houses in the area, rather than the three-bedroom properties. This can cause a huge miscalculation of the property value, which will, in turn, affect the amount owed in taxes. Make sure your property record has accurate information. Check the following areas:
● Property address and description
● Land size (acreage)
● Square footage of structure(s)
● Whether or not basements and attics are included in square footage
● Rooms listed in the home
● Recent sales transactions and sales history
● Prior year taxes
● Owner information (doesn’t really affect taxes but important to have correct)
● Special features or improvements that may impact property value
It’s All About Awareness
No one is trying to rip you off when calculating your Gwinnett County property tax. However, mistakes do happen and they can cost you a lot of money. The best way to reduce what you owe and guarantee that your property taxes are right on target is to pay attention. Get to know your tax bill and you’ll be headed down the right path.
At Fair-Assessments.com, we can help you appeal your property tax assessment if you feel that something isn’t right. Our team of valuation experts knows the process and understands Gwinnett County tax laws and assessment procedures. Call us today to see if an appeal can help you reduce your property tax liability.