What Is a “Board of Equalization” 

At times, it may seem like you are on your own and perhaps no one is there to look after your best interests. You may be surprised to know, however, that if you are a property owner in the Atlanta Metro area, there are people available to make sure you are treated fairly. In Gwinnett County and Cobb County, for example, there are “Boards of Equalization” (BOE) which are government agencies charged with hearing appeals from property owners on their property tax assessments.

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Get Lower Property Taxes in Georgia

No one wants to pay high property taxes. Then again, no one wants to live somewhere with low property values. You want to purchase your home at a low price, watch the area improve, make improvements to your home, and then sell it at a higher value than you bought it.

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Atlanta Real Estate | Atlanta Office Values

When the Atlanta GA tax assessors determine the value of your office building for property tax purposes, their decisions are largely based on the specifics of your building and on the state of the market. Usually, their estimate of your property's value assumes that its value moves in the same direction as the greater Atlanta market. With this in mind, the key to managing your property assessment is to understand the broader market. That way, you can better gauge how your property's performance compares.

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Atlanta Real Estate Values

Recently much news has been made about the increasing house values around the country. Apparently the depths of the Great Recession are behind us and real estate is in full recovery mode. According to the Case-Shiller Atlanta home price index, housing values increased 18.44% year-over-year as of August 2013.

This is, of course, an average increase in house values for Atlanta real estate as a whole. I have found wide disparities from this average as I analyze values by neighborhood throughout the metro area. If we dig into the Case-Shiller Atlanta home price index a little further we can see where some of the variation is coming from.

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Board of Equalization Georgia, Arbitration, and Hearing Officer

My last blog talked about how to appeal your tax assessment and its process. As discussed, you may opt to appeal to the County Board of Equalization, to a Hearing Officer or to an Arbitrator. To help you with your decision, I decided to discuss further how these 3 work and their differences.

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Dekalb County Property Tax Appeal

As stated in Georgia law, before tax bills are released, all counties should have already issued an Annual Assessment Notice to all taxable real estate owners. This Tax Assessment Notice should be distributed April - June of each year.

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Property Tax Appeals - Using Equity

Equity is not an approach to value, yet for assessment purposes it can be as important as one. Equity is all about fairness. Specifically that your property tax burden is fair when compared to your neighbor, or your competition. Most states that I have worked in require that tax jurisdictions must assess based on equity, or “uniformity.” This is to ensure that the tax burden is distributed fairly. The exceptions that I am aware of are Florida and Ohio. (Full disclosure: I have worked property tax appeals in ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, WV, OH, NC, SC, GA, AL, FL)

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About the Board of Equalization Georgia

Every Board of Equalization in every county of Georgia is made up of three members who are property owners. They are supported by three alternates.
These members have been appointed by the Grand Jury and are expected to be high school graduates who can qualify as Grand Jurors. They must agree to serve a three-year term. In order to write in general terms, applicable to all Boards of Equalization in every Georgia county I refer to these collectively as "Board of Equalization Georgia."

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Dekalb County Tax Assessment Hearings Have Started

The first round of Dekalb County Tax assessment hearing dates for the Board of Equalization has been sent out to property owners who are appealing the assessed values set on their properties. If you have received your hearing date, or have made your appeal and are awaiting your hearing date then it is time to ensure that you are prepared for the process and have made a strong case against the value that has been placed on your property.

Know the Process

Before your Dekalb County tax assessment hearing, it is a good to familiarize yourself with the process that is undertaken to determine the taxable value of your property. The process takes place under the Georgia Revenue Code whereby a property is appraised at 100% of its fair market value. The property is then assessed for tax at 40% of that value; if the appraised value of the property is too high then the tax assessment is too high as well.

You can file an appeal against your Dekalb County tax assessment once the Annual assessment notices have been mailed in the later part of May, and you have 45 days to appeal. It is important to note that while the appeal is being considered the property is no longer billed under that year’s appraised value. It is instead billed at a temporary value that is the greater of either the tax payers Property Tax Return Value or 85% of the original Notice value. Once the appeal is completed the temporary value will be dismissed, and the property owner will be issued either a refund or a new bill; the appropriate interest will also be added.

Be Prepared

Before you can have a date for a Dekalb County tax assessment hearing, you need to complete some research, and either file an appeal form, or write a letter stating you believe the Dekalb County Tax assessment is wrong This is done in the 45 day period after assessment notices are issued. You will need to present these facts at the hearing so it is worthwhile checking the details and ensuring that they are correct. You can get assistance with understanding the assessment process, and gathering the appropriate data for making your case.

What to Expect at the Hearing

Taking your Dekalb County tax assessment to the Board of Equalization does not involve paying any fees. The board consists of three members, each of which are county property owners who have undergone at least 40-hour training in property tax law and appraisal. At the hearing, the board will review your letter of appeal and listen to your presentation. It is important to keep your presentation factual and to the point; the board will only consider elements that may have affected the valuation of your property. It is equally important to stay calm, and focused through the appeal hearing; you will gain nothing by losing your temper. The board will also listen to the case made by the county appraiser before making a decision; you are informed of the decision at the hearing if you request it, and always in writing via the mail.

Where do you go from here

If the Board of Equalization rules against you and in agreement with the Dekalb County tax assessment, it is not necessarily the end of the process. You have 30 days from receiving their decision to appeal to the Superior Court; be advised that if the board rules for you then the County appraiser can also appeal to the Superior Court within 30 days. After this phase, fees start to apply. Although you have this option at your disposal, and you still have a chance of overturning the ruling, you should think carefully before taking the process on to this level. A property tax service can help you make this decision.

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property tax appeals

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