Fulton County Tax Bill Errors

Attention Fulton County Taxpayer! The Fulton County Tax Commissioner's office has mailed incorrect tax bills. It's not that the taxable value is wrong, or the tax rate. It's the calculation of the taxable value by the tax rate that is incorrect on many tax bills. Of course, the mistake tends to increase the amount of property tax that is due. 

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Fulton County Tax Assessors 2014

The Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors have, apparently, sent their 2014 property tax assessment notices. I say apparently because we had been hearing that the notices would be dated June 6, and mailed on June 6. However, a client in Marietta has received a 2014 tax assessment notice from the Fulton County Assessors today. Which means the notice was probably mailed yesterday, the 4th. The notice however, is dated TOMORROW June 6. 

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Fulton County Property Tax and the Tax Commissioner

There are two types of property taxes in America, one is the tax on the value of your land and buildings, and the second is on accessories such as machinery, delivery vans, and business furniture, also called personal property. For owners and managers of commercially intensive properties such as office buildings, retail, hotels and shopping centers it is vital that you ensure the tax assessment on your property is not exaggerated at your expense. 

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Are Fulton County Tax Assessors Creating Inaccuracies in Assessments?

Regular property assessments are the backbone of the property tax system in Fulton County and the rest of Georgia’s counties. The current system requires that Fulton County tax assessors value each home in the county over the course of several years to assess the home’s condition and value based on a variety of different factors. From that assessment, you will pay property taxes. However, are those Fulton County tax assessors responsible for creating accurate assessments actually creating inaccuracies?

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Fulton County Tax Assessment Errors Lead to Residents Overpaying

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

No one likes taxes, but they’re an inescapable part of life. In order to have a functioning government, even on the local level, taxes must be assessed. Fulton County taxes come in several forms, including sales tax and property tax. The problem here is that inaccuracies in the mass property appraisal method used by Fulton County tax assessors lead to over assessment and errors, costing you more each year in property taxes. What’s the problem?

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Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation Lives!!!

The bells were tolling for the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation in December of 2012 when the AJC reported that the nonprofit was on the verge of collapse. Apparently spending exceeded donations by a large margin and heads needed to roll. I reported in this blog that they had ended property tax appeal work at the Foundation. 

However, I have spoken to two members of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation this week and the property tax appeal work has not ended. The problem was the Foundation was short on cash and unable to pay the appraisers that were working the appeals. The Foundation kept asking the Fulton County Board of Equalization to reschedule the appeals so they wouldn't incur the monetary obligation to the appraisers.

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Fulton County Property Appraiser

The Fulton County property appraiser is the chief appraiser that works for the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors. In the state of Florida the tax assessor is often called the property appraiser so there may be some confusion in terminology. If you're looking for a real estate appraiser that works in Fulton County, Georgia see Atlanta Real Property Advisors.

The Fulton County chief appraiser is hired by the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors to administer the tax assessment department. The chief appraiser has several deputy chief appraisers working for him or her to help with the management of this large department. The staff consists of residential appraisers, commercial appraisers, personal property appraisers, geographic information systems personnel, and administrative staff.

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Fulton Commercial Real Estate Owners Reel From Assessments

Taxes are an inevitable part of life, an unpleasant one maybe but essential to the running of the country. In most cases, you receive the bill, grumble about it and then see that it gets paid; just occasionally though you receive a tax bill that doesn’t seem right. What can you do when the tax bill you receive for your commercial property doesn’t seem fair? By following a few simple steps and putting all your evidence together, you can appeal against the amount you are being charged and try to get the bill lowered.

Facts That Determine Assessment

Property taxes in Fulton start with the Fulton tax assessors whose responsibility it is to work out the value of a property before applying 40% to that amount to reach the assessed value of the property on which the tax is based. To get some understanding of whether your tax bill is fair you will need to compare it with those sent to owners of similar properties and, if possible, get help from someone, such as a realtor, who has a good understanding of property values in your area.

However, commercial property taxes are not based purely on the value of the building and to create a case against the assessment of the Fulton tax assessors you will also need to know your expense ratio, net operating income, and capitalization rate. The best way to get your capitalization rate is to derive it from the sales of similar properties.

Once you have these figures you are ready to start to build an appeal case; the next step is to decide on what grounds you are going to base the appeal. You could choose to argue that the market rental rate is lower than the rate that has been used by the Fulton tax assessors. If you can find grounds to do so you can argue that your property is unique and will, therefore, never have the low expense ratio that was used in the assessment. The third option is to argue that the capitalization rate used is the assessment was too low.

The Appeal Process

The Fulton tax assessor’s offices set out a 45 day period from receiving your tax notice, to lodge your appeal. If you are sending documentation to their office, it is always a good idea to send it as certified mail so that you receive confirmation that your documents have reached their destination. Appealing in person can involve an informal discussion with the County appraiser and allows you the opportunity to explain why you disagree with the assessor's decision, and to ask questions. Prior to any meeting, send only the necessary documentation, and take the rest with you as further evidence of your case.

If you lose your appeal at this stage, it is not necessarily the end of the process; you can choose to have your case heard by the Board of Equalization which is free or you could choose to go to arbitration. When attending your appeal hearing remember to be on time, to explain your case clearly and to listen carefully to what is being said. The hearings are quite short, and you may have a lot of details to go through, but stick to the point and keep it short and business like. Whatever else you do, remember to stay calm and professional.

Arbitration does have costs attached but may be the best option if you have had mixed previous experiences with using the Board of Equalization. If you are still not in agreement with their decision then your final option is the Superior Court appeal, whose judgment on the matter is final.

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Atlanta GA Tax Assessor

There is still time to send in a property tax assessment appeal to the Atlanta GA Tax Assessor. The 2012 appeal deadline is June 28 and there is no provision in the Georgia tax law for relief if you fail to appeal within the designated appeal period. You get 45 days from the date of notice, no ifs ands or buts. 

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Fulton Tax Assessors

There is still time to appeal your valuation notice from the Fulton Tax Assessors. The deadline to appeal is June 28. The Fulton tax assessors usually receive more property tax appeals than any other county in the Atlanta metropolitan area. They are currently still working on their 2011 appeals as well as court cases from prior years. There is hope that they will get to their 2012 assessment appeals sometime soon so that this property tax appeal season doesn't drag on well into 2013.

As a former manager for the Fulton Tax Assessors, I know about the volume of appeals they get. Every appeal form or letter is put into a separate file for every real estate parcel appealed. Each appeal is logged into the computer system. This process, by itself, is very time-consuming. With a large number of appeals being filed in the last week, you can bet that many of the appeal folders that are given to the appropriate appraiser won't even be completed until the end of July. If you try to talk to the appropriate appraiser about your property tax appeal they may tell you that they don't have the appropriate file to work with you.

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