How to Appeal Your Property Taxes

Posted on July 25, 2011 by

Tax Bill - Property TaxesIf you own real estate in Georgia, then you probably just received an Annual Notice of Assessment from your county’s Tax Assessors Office.

If you are like most property owners, you have four basic questions:  1) What is the Tax Assessors Office?  2) What is an Annual Notice of Assessment?  3) How are property taxes determined?  4) Can I get my property taxes lowered?

The Tax Assessors Office is misnamed!  It should be called the Property Appraisers Office – ‘cause that’s what they do.  They determine a property’s fair market value (FMV).  They don’t set tax rates.  Who sets your tax rates?  YOU DO!  Elected officials – the folks YOU elect – set YOUR tax rates.  Think your taxes are too high?  Blame your elected officials, not the Assessors Office!

The Annual Notice of Assessment lists seven important things.  1) The property owner.  2) The address of the property.  3) The property’s FMV.  4) The property’s Assessed Value.  5) The Millage Rates.  6) The total estimated tax bill.  7) The last date you can file an appeal.

The Assessment Notice lists your ESTIMATED property taxes.  This is because the amount of property taxes you owe ISN’T written in stone…yet.  According to Georgia law, if you disagree with any of the information listed on your Assessment Notice, you have 45 days from the Notice Date to file an appeal.  If you don’t file an appeal within that 45-day window, you forfeit your right to appeal.

Property taxes are determined by multiplying something called the Millage Rate by 40% of a property’s FMV.  Elected officials determine the Millage Rate.  The Assessors determine each property’s FMV.

Here’s an example of how we figure our estimated property tax bill: We own a rental property in Acworth, Georgia.  According to the Annual Notice of Assessment, the property’s FMV is $56,900.  The Millage Rate is .02588.  Here’s the math: $56,900 x 40% = $22,760.  Then $22,760 x .02588 = $589.03.  Our estimated tax bill for this year is $589.03.

How can you lower your property tax bill?  Since you can’t adjust the Millage Rate, your only option is to lower your property’s FMV.  To do this, you must prove – with documented evidence – that your property is worth less than what is claimed by the Assessors Office.

What type of documented evidence do you need?  The folks in the Assessors Office can answer this question.  In Bartow County, when you walk into the Assessors office, Judy Kilgore and Carolyn Dew greet you.  They both know their stuff and are all about customer service!

Consider the property I used in the example above: We will appeal the property’s FMV.  You see, though the property may be worth $56,900, we bought it last year for $101.  There’s a new Georgia law that states the Assessors Office must use the purchase price as the property’s FMV for the first year.

Let’s do the math: $101 x 40% = $40.40 x .02588 = $1.05.  Yep, my tax bill should be $1.05.  This is a tax saving of $587.98!  Looks like Mama is gonna get some new shoes…for her horses!

Remember, if you think your property values are too high, it can pay to file an appeal.

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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