Frequently Asked Questions

What is a property tax appeal?

Most States allow the counties to tax property owners based on the value of the real estate they own. Some States have no income tax so the counties rely heavily on property and sales tax to fund local government. Other States have income tax so their property tax rates are lower. Property taxes are sometimes called Ad Valorem taxes which means “According to Value”. Real estate values fluctuate with the economic cycle and many States, including Georgia, send out tax assessment notices every year. This notice tells you what the local government thinks your real estate is worth and the value they intend to base your tax on. Appraising all of the real estate in a county is a daunting task however, and the tax assessors can’t be consistently accurate. The process they use is called Mass Appraisal and relies on statistical testing. As a result, the State tax law allows for property owners to challenge the values that their tax is based on.

How do I know that my tax assessment value is wrong?

If you know about other similar property sales in your market area, or neighborhood, then you probably have some idea about what your property might sell for. Also, if the tax assessor has appraised your house like the sold properties in your area, but you know that your property is inferior to the sold properties in some way, then the tax assessment value may be incorrect. If you don’t think you could sell your property for the value that the tax assessors have assigned to it then you may have a case for a lower value.

Why should I appeal my tax assessment?

The mass appraisal process used by the tax assessors is unreliable and there is often room for adjustment. Additionally, in Georgia, settling your property tax appeal at a formal hearing caps your taxable value for three years. You may want to do this even if you think the assessor’s market value estimate is reasonable.

Will the county hold this against me?

No the tax assessment appeal process is written in the tax laws of the state and is a right that all taxpayers have.  Many people have good reasons to appeal their value and the tax assessment staff understand this.

How long does the tax assessment appeal process take?

It depends on the county and what has been happening with values. Gwinnett and Cobb counties almost always complete their appeals during the same year appealed. Fulton and DeKalb counties typically send their tax assessment notices later in the year and their appeals always extend into the following year. If market values have been rising and the tax assessors are keeping up with the market more people are likely to appeal because they keep seeing their property tax rising. If market values are falling and the tax assessors are slow to respond to falling values more people are likely to appeal in that situation. In both cases more appeals mean the processing of tax assessment appeals will take longer.

What can Fair Assessments do for me?

Fair Assessments is a full service property tax reduction firm. When you engage us we will file the appeal on your behalf, do all of the research necessary to build a case for a lower value, and represent you in negotiations with the tax assessment staff and at formal hearings.

Why should I choose Fair Assessments?

Fair Assessments has been in valuation services for 33 years. This has included licensed fee appraisal work, mass appraisal work with two counties, and property tax consulting work for the past 19 years. We have a high value reduction success rate and always get the appeals resolved such that your taxable value is capped for three years.

What does it require to get started?

You will find the engagement letter, or terms of service, on the Fair Assessments website. On the website you can agree to the terms of service, pay for the service, and complete a letter of authorization that we need to represent you in all aspect of the property tax appeal process. If you are a commercial property owner and your property is leased to another or other parties then we will request P&L and a rent roll.

What are Fair Assessments fees?

Residential fees vary based on the tax assessor’s value but they are flat, up-front fees that cover the service. You can find them on the Fair Assessments website. There are no other fees due for single family house appeals. Commercial property owners pay a $395 administrative fee and 25% of the tax savings generated for the first year only.

Can you appeal prior year values?

Rarely. If there is a gross error in your property description that would have lowered your value in a prior year in Georgia they will reduce your value and tax for a total of three years. It is rare that the tax assessor’s property description is so wrong that you would get a refund of tax from a prior year however.

Does Fair Assessments give a discount for multiple properties?

Contact us if you have this situation.

I already filed a property tax appeal. Can Fair Assessments get involved?

Yes once you have engaged us and provided the letter of authorization we can start representing you in the process by negotiating with the assessment staff and attending formal hearings.

What happens after the appeal is settled?

Fair Assessments will provide you with documentation showing the result of the appeal. In Georgia while you are in appeal you get a temporary tax bill. This is based on the prior year value or 85% of the current year value, whichever is lower, until the appeal is resolved. Once the appeal is resolved, the tax commissioner will get the result and calculate the final tax amount. In some cases a value reduction will still result in a supplemental tax bill for the difference between the temporary bill and the final tax amount. After a Board of Equalization decision (where most of our appeals are resolved) you have 30 days to appeal that decision to Superior Court. So the tax commissioner won’t get the final value until after these 30 days have passed and you may not see a supplemental bill or refund for 45 days or longer.

Should I pay for an appraisal for the property tax appeal?

Not necessarily. Licensed appraisers need to use the most comparable sales available, and these may not support a lower tax assessment. A property tax consultant, on the other hand, can use whatever sales they choose, including the lowest sales in the neighborhood or market area. We can also use the assessments of comparable properties to support a lower value, something fee appraisers do not consider.

Will a lower tax assessment impact what I can sell my property for?

Most real estate professionals know that tax assessments are unreliable and will steer property sellers away from these values. Rely on your broker or agent to tell you what your property should be listed for. Buyer brokers and agents should do the same thing with their clients.