When researching tax assessments and property tax appeals, there is a lot of information to take in. Combined with the often confusing use of similar terms, some homeowners may find it difficult to understand who they need to call or which party is responsible for various parts of the appeals process. To make things easier, and because it’s important for homeowners to know how to appeal their property tax assessments, this article will delve into the parties involved in a tax assessment and appeals process and what their roles are along the way.
Gwinnett County Tax Assessor: The County Authority
The assessor in your county works for the tax office, in most cases. These assessors are responsible for estimating the value of all real property in Gwinnett County, including commercial and residential real estate. The exceptions include churches, schools, and charities, which are not valued for property tax in most cases. Every other type of property out there has a distinct value, which will be estimated based on the current real estate market, the property details and features, and other local or county regulations in regard to assessing property taxes.
Due to the sheer volume of real estate in Georgia and throughout the country, most counties operate on an assessment system that involves compiling and referencing real estate and real property data, statistics, and historical trends to determine a value. There aren’t resources or time for a full, individual, in-person assessment on each real property in the county, so this data-driven method proves to be the most effective.
For property owners, it can even offer the chance to reduce property taxes in almost every situation. Since the assessment is generalized and data-driven, property owners who can provide more concrete information regarding their property will often be able to successfully appeal their tax assessment without a lot of resistance. In fact, the majority of people who file an appeal end up winning their claim, so long as they have actual proof that their property tax values may be incorrect.
What do Private Tax Assessors and Assessment Firms Do?
Remember that volume issue discussed above? When a property owner feels that their tax assessment is not accurate because of the generalized process or the information used in the assessment, they can hire a private tax assessment firm to assist them in filing an appeal and determining the actual value of their property, as well as what the recommended tax should really be. These private firms understand the laws surrounding property taxes and how assessments are performed. They also know how to capitalize on comps and physical attributes that the assessor may have overlooked because it wasn’t included in their data.
A property tax assessment firm will go through all of the information about your property and determine, based on the information available, whether or not a tax assessment is reasonably accurate. In a lot of cases, they aren’t. However, most people don’t even think twice and just pay their bills. Today, tax assessment firms are putting a stop to that and helping property owners get more accurate tax values for their homes so they aren’t overpaying.
How Does an Assessor Know My Property Value without Seeing the Property?
If you call for an independent property appraisal for value alone, most third-party appraisal services will tell you that they can’t give you an accurate value without coming out to see the property. How, then, does a Gwinnett County tax assessor know that they are putting properties in the right tax brackets?
The short answer is that they don’t, really.
Yes, their information is based on real property data that is on file with the county. They use sales values and comps to assist them in figuring out what each property should be valued at for the sake of taxation. Given the information that they have, they do their best to assign tax values to properties that are as accurate as possible.
Unfortunately, because there are so many variables involved and county records don’t always have complete or accurate information, these assessments may be based on misinformation or a lack thereof. As a result, some property taxes could be way off the mark. Assessors don’t have the time or means to go back through each property and double-check for accuracy. That’s where hiring an assessment firm comes into play.
Filing a Property Tax Appeal
Anyone who feels that their property tax assessment is incorrect is entitled to file an appeal. Property owners can appeal their taxes every year if they desire. Once an appeal is ruled in favor of the property owner, they are generally entitled up to three years without a property tax increase to make up for the errors. Appealing property taxes can be confusing on your own, which is where an experienced appeals team can come in handy.
Some valid reasons for filing an appeal that are more specific than the obvious “my taxes are too high” complaint include:
● The wrong values were used. An assessor should be using the “assessed” value of your property and multiplying that by the local tax rate in Gwinnett County to determine your taxes. If the assessed value of your home is incorrectly listed, the taxes you are charged will be incorrect, as well.
● The lot size, structural dimensions, or information on improvements to the structure are incorrect or missing on the property card or tax assessment. An assessor may not realize that they have incorrect information and will complete the assessment with what they are given, resulting again in an incorrect property tax bill.
● If the comps used to determine sale values in the local market were not the right comps (due to misinformation or missing information on your property), the appraised (sale) value of your property could be incorrect. If the appraised value is wrong, the assessed value will likely be miscalculated, as well.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong reason to file a property tax appeal. If you feel that your taxes aren’t accurate, you should contact the team at Fair-Assessments.com. We specialize in property tax appeals and helping property owners in Georgia reduce their tax burdens. Contact us today to learn more.