In the process of performing a tax assessment, the county assessor will evaluate a lot of data and information related to your property. Because of the complexity of property tax valuation and the sheer volume of real estate, the state of Georgia uses a mass appraisal system to determine property values and tax rates. This seems to be effective enough, but it can also result in a lot of incorrect information being used to determine how much a property owner should pay.
Some people think that their tax rate is just a percentage of their home’s appraisal value. This isn’t exactly the case. The appraised value of the home does factor into property tax calculations. However, so does the historical sales data, the details of the property, its location, land value, and many other factors. In order to understand how your taxes are calculated and whether you might be overpaying (or not paying enough), you can break it down into the various aspects used to determine value and tax rates.
For the sake of this article, we will focus on the specific property characteristics that your Gwinnett County tax assessor is going to use to assist in determining the value of your property.
Anything that has been done to the land is considered improvement data, for the sake of real property records. This information plays a large role in property values and consists of a number of different elements. By being familiar with the details of your property, such as living area square footage or construction quality, you may be able to easily identify potential errors in your property record or tax assessment.
By and large, one of the most commonly seen errors in tax assessments and property records is an incorrect measurement of the square footage of the home. There are a number of reasons that this could happen, but what matters is that it can affect your property value and tax rate significantly.
Whether you’re just being proactive or you’ve already found an issue with your property listing or tax assessment in regards to the living area, you have a few options to take action and correct the error. Check an old tax bill or assessment and see if it provides information on the valuation of the living area. Check to make sure that the information is correct. If it isn’t, you’ll have to gather evidence of the right details. In the case of square footage discrepancies, you can use a recent appraisal or hire an independent appraiser to do a full measurement of your property. You can invest in a full appraisal if you desire, but for measurements only, you’ll spend a lot less.
One other element that impacts tax valuation is the listing of rooms in the home. For example, if your home is listed as a four-bedroom, two-bath home and it really has three bedrooms and one and a half baths, you might be overpaying. Plus, when you go to sell it may be more difficult because people will check your property record and realize that the information is incorrect.
Key Construction Components
The quality of construction in a property plays a big role in tax valuation, as well. Things like the foundation, exterior walls, or other major elements can impact the value of the house. Higher-quality materials and construction will obviously result in a higher property value. This is good for the sake of real estate, but it may increase your property taxes. Still, it is important to report the most accurate information to the local tax office so that your property can be accurately valued in all regards.
The problem with not reporting changes or errors that may increase your tax bill is that eventually, someone else will realize the mistake. When they do, property owners could be subject to hefty penalties and fines for underpaying in previous years. Double-check the major construction points for your property to ensure they provide an accurate valuation.
Secondary Living Areas
If your home has a finished basement, garage, porch or deck, or a balcony, you have an additional living area. This is going to impact the valuation of the property significantly. In the same vein, merely having these spaces is enough to change your property value, but their quality and features can affect it even more.
For example, a basic covered porch with a metal awning might add a small amount of value to the property, while a fully-furnished balcony constructed with high-end materials will have a much bigger impact. Tax assessors aren’t going to look at all of these details themselves, but this is the information that is supplied to them to assist them in making an accurate assessment.
In addition to the structures and improvements on the property, the land is part of the value and tax assessment. This includes the lot size and available utilities. If the land data is not correct on your property record, you may be able to file an appeal if you feel that it has negatively impacted your property tax assessment. Land is another area where a lot of mistakes can happen. This is usually due to maps not matching property descriptions, or the fact that descriptions don’t follow a universal format.
As part of the mass appraisal process, homes are grouped into submarkets, or “neighborhoods” for the sake of valuation. The market area and the site amenities also affect the value and tax assessment of your home. These could include things like water frontage or premium downtown views. Local nuisances, such as airports, industrial areas, and high-traffic roads nearby can also affect property values.
What to Do Next
Now that you know more about how a Gwinnett County tax assessor uses property information to value your home, you can identify any potential gaps in information or incorrect specs that could impact what you pay for property taxes. The appeals process will allow you to file for corrections and increase your chances of getting an adjusted tax rate. If you need help with your assessment appeal, contact Fair Assessments, LLC today.