Are Your Property Taxes Too High?

Posted on March 18, 2011 by

Are Your Property Taxes Too High?Do you think your property taxes are too high?  If you do, how do you get them lowered?  And who’s responsible for determining the amount you pay in property taxes, anyway?

Let’s begin with the last question first.  I greatly respect and much admire the folks who work in the Tax Assessor’s office.  They have a daunting, thankless job!

When Kim and I first began disputing our property taxes in 2006, I viewed the Tax Assessor’s office as my adversary.  Over the years, after spending a lot of time getting to know these folks and learning how the process works, I now realize how WRONG I was.

The hard-working folks in the Tax Assessor’s office DON’T determine the amount of property tax you pay.  Rather, they are responsible for determining each property’s FMV (Fair Market Value) in the county.  Property taxes are determined by your local ELECTED officials.

Got a beef?  Don’t want to pay ANY property taxes?  Then elect officials who promise to ban ALL property taxes.  But be careful – without property taxes, there will be no schools, no teachers, no police/fire/sheriff’s department, etc.

Our elected officials (state, county, city and school board) set the Mill Rate (i.e. property tax rate).  The Mill Rate is multiplied by the each property’s Assessed Value, which is 40% of the property’s FMV as determined by the Tax Assessor’s office.

Each year, our elected officials determine the Mill Rate, and each year, the Tax Assessor’s office determines each property’s FMV.  Both numbers are in constant flux.

How can you lower your taxes?  Elect officials who promise to lower the Mill Rate.  Also, if you disagree with the FMV the Tax Assessor’s office places on your property, you can do two things:  First, you can file a Return early in the year.  Second, when you receive your Ad Valorem Tax Notice around July, you file an appeal and appear before the Board of Equalization to present your case in late summer.

When Kim and I began appealing our property taxes in 2006, we weren’t very good at it.  We didn’t know what to do and we tripped all over ourselves.  But with each passing year, we get better and better.

If you think your property taxes are too high, does it pay to file a Return and/or appear in front of the Board of Equalization?  Let’s see – as of the end of 2010, we’ve lowered our property taxes 38 out of 46 times.  In 2010 alone, we lowered our taxes on 17 out of 18 properties, which saved us $2,377 – that’s a lot of dinero, muchacho!

Something to know: When presenting your case, remember that your property’s FMV is set on January 1st of that tax year.  This means that any evidence you present (i.e. comparable sales, foreclosure information, newspaper articles, etc.) must predate January 1st of that tax year.

Hope today’s column helps you save a bunch of money!

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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