In accordance with Georgia Law (OCGA 48-5-264.1), the chief appraiser, other members of the county property appraisal staff, and members of the county board of tax assessors may go upon property outside of buildings, posted or otherwise, in order to carry out the duty of updating property records to facilitate the estimating of the fair market values of taxable property in the county.
The Cobb County tax assessor appeal deadline for commercial properties is coming up very soon. The 2013 deadline for commercial property is June 3. You still have approximately one week to appeal these commercial values. After the June 3 deadline there is no option for for a property tax appeal in 2013. The law is very clear in this respect. The appeal period is 45 days from the notice date, no if's and's or but's.
If you want to ensure that your Cobb County property tax is as low as possible be proactive and get your property tax appeal filed. Although the commercial real estate market has recovered since the Great Recession the amount of recovery depends on the property type and the market area. Not all of Cobb County has experienced appreciation that some of the news would have you believe. Some of the commercial property types that are still suffering are limited service hotels, restaurants, and golf courses.
The Cobb County apartment market has been on fire in recent years due to the high number of foreclosures and families losing their homes. Despite attractive interest rates, home buyers remain on the sidelines due to stringent mortgage underwriting. It has really been the perfect storm for apartment communities. Now that the great recession is supposedly behind us and the Georgia tax assessors are able to increase values, you can expect apartments to be in the crosshairs of the Cobb County tax assessor.
In the fourth quarter of 2012 Real Estate Research Corporation shows that apartment properties in the Atlanta Metro area have an average going-in capitalization rate of 6.4%. This is the lowest capitalization rate that they reported for any commercial property class in the Atlanta area. This cap rate is for first tier investment properties, which are defined as new or newer quality construction in prime to good locations.
The Cobb County tax assessor is gearing up to send out 2013 assessment notices to all property owners in Cobb County, Georgia. Last year the Cobb County tax assessment notices came out two weeks after the Gwinnett County notices and we'll see if that happens again. Gwinnett County was sending out their 2013 notices on Friday, April 5. Last year we filed our Cobb County property tax appeals very early during the 45 day appeal period and our board of equalization hearings were scheduled very early in the process. You can realize tax savings quickly if you do the same.
There's a good chance that the Cobb County tax assessor will be looking at flex/warehouse properties for the 2013 revaluation adjustments. According to Real Estate Research Corporation (RERC), institutional investors see the industrial sector as a good investment and they suggest that as the economy improves the industrial sector has the most potential upside. However, the flex sector was not seen as desirable as the industrial warehouse sector. According to CBRE, industrial vacancy declined to 12.8% during the fourth quarter of 2012, and over the past two years the industrial market has shown a steady decline and availability.
It's springtime in Atlanta! Oh wait, it's in the 60s with thunderstorms and a tornado watch and it's only January 30! Such is life in the capital of the new South. If you don't like the weather just wait a little while. There will be a similar tornado watch this spring as the tax assessors begin to send out tax assessment notices to every real property owner in the state of Georgia.
Last year the Cobb County Tax Assessor created quite a storm when they sent out huge increases on commercial properties. Many of the unsuspecting commercial property owners were dumbfounded at the taxable value increases they saw, considering they were still struggling to keep tenants in their buildings and competing with other struggling property owners for new tenants. Even though some of their values were, honestly, a little low, they couldn't believe that with the same net operating income as the previous year their taxable value could be 50% to 100% higher.
Last year more people reported having difficulties in securing successful Georgia property tax appeals and assessments for their Georgia property taxes. According to a recent report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (3/31/2012) many are unsuccessful in appealing due to a simple lack of preparation. As the saying goes, people don't plan to fail, they fail to plan.
Those well prepared and educated about the Georgia property tax appeals process are much more likely to succeed, which saves money. One of the biggest mistakes people make has to do with failing to present the appropriate comparable sales for their area. Going into the assessor's office or the Board of Equalization and claiming that your value can't be higher this year because values have been falling throughout the metropolitan area isn't good enough. Proper preparation is key. If you know a realtor, they may be willing to help you determine what the best comparables are, and what are not.
The Cobb County Assessors office uses current mass appraisal standards and recent sales data to determine property values. As a result of the end of the moratorium on assessment increases this year they decided to send out new assessments. Some of the commercial real property values doubled. In many cases they were changing values that were established by the Board of Equalization (BOE) in 2011. The Cobb County Assessors claim they physically inspected all properties that received an increase in tax assessment which allowed them to change BOE values.
Business assets owned by a company or organization used in the day to day operations of the business are considered taxable personal property. All businesses are required to send a detailed report of all property annually unless the total value of the property is less than $7,500. Failure to do so can result in a 10% penalty. Reports are due to the Cobb County Assessors office by April 1 each year. Similarly, real property tax returns are due by April 1 and should report any changes to the property description from the prior year. In Georgia if you do not file a property tax return you have, in effect, returned the same value that the tax assessors had on it the prior year.
Once returns are received, the Cobb County Assessors office will analyze the value to determine if they agree. If the assessors do not agree with the returned value they have to send an appealable assessment notice to the property owner. In the event that the owner disagrees with the value calculated by the Cobb County Assessors office, a formal appeal must be submitted in writing within 45 days of the value notice date. Generally, it's best to send the appeal documentation via certified mail to ensure proper delivery in a timely manner. This also ensures you maintain adequate records in the event that the date may be questioned. At this time, the Cobb County Assessors office does not accept appeals or asset reports electronically. All paperwork must be delivered by courier, mail, or hand delivered.
Upon receiving the appeal, the Cobb County Assessor office will send an acknowledgement letter to you stating the recommendation to the Board of Tax Assessors. They will then decide whether to make any changes to the valuation of assets. In the event that you are not satisfied with any change in valuation, you then have 30 days to file a written appeal to the Board of Equalization. Once a hearing is set before the board, you will be notified of the hearing date and given the opportunity to present your case during the appeal hearing. The Cobb County Assessor officer will also have the chance to present evidence there. If neither side can agree with the Board of Equalization's finding, then the matter can be appealed to the Superior Court for final decision.
The Cobb County Assessors office indicated that after a two year freeze on assessment increases that the State of Georgia imposed on all counties it was time for assessment increases. Especially, they said, because property owners kept appealing during the moratorium, forcing values lower and lower. Of course it is hard to argue that during the moratorium values weren't falling lower and lower. Should you have any additional questions about property taxes contact the Cobb County Assessor's office at 770-528-3100.