Silence is a Form of Acceptance

Posted on October 16, 2013 by

Yesterday, I attended the Board of Assessor’s monthly meeting at the county courthouse.  Including me, the total number of private citizens in the room was…one!  This isn’t unusual. I attend several of these meetings each year – usually around property tax time – and I’ve never seen anyone else there except for the folks on the board.

For the record, board members are appointed by county government officials.  The members work hard and have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.  Their job is to review property tax appeals, sales ratios and changes to the tax digest.  Before a decision is rendered, there’s a lot of open, back-and-forth discussion.

At the meeting, I learned that around 2,000 property owners filed property tax appeals – this is about the same number as last year.  I was dumbstruck that so few had filed an appeal.  Because Steve Taylor, the County Commissioner – who has one T-O-U-G-H job – recently announced plans for a 25% property tax increase, I figured there would be a flood of property tax appeals.

Turns out that due to the continued slump of real estate values in 2012, the value of a majority of real estate either remained the same or decreased.  Therefore, when most property owners got their 2013 Annual Notice of Assessment, it showed their property’s fair market value staying the same or dropping a bit.

The Annual Notice of Assessment also shows a property owner’s estimated property tax amount.  I say estimated because last year’s millage (tax) rate was used – not the current year’s millage rate.  The current year’s millage rate wasn’t used because the rate isn’t determined until later in the year.

So here’s what I think is gonna happen:  When folks get their 2013 property tax bills, because of the likely increase in the 2013 millage rate, they’re gonna pay substantially more in property taxes this year than last – even though their property values stayed the same or went down!

How will folks react?  Have you ever met anyone who is happy when they are forced to pay more taxes?

When property owners received this year’s property tax bills and realize their property taxes have gone up, the first question they ask is: “What can I do about this?”  Sadly, there’s nothing that can be done now.  The time to do something was earlier in the year.  The thing to do was to fight your property’s value by filing a Return before May 1st, then an Appeal before the deadline at summer’s end, and finally, property owners should have showed up at the commissioner’s meetings in record numbers and said, “No tax increase!

Oh – and if you’re a tenant who thinks your landlord deserves to pay higher taxes, get ready for what happens next…YOUR rent is about to go UP!  Don’t you know that when taxes are raised on business owners, those taxes are quickly passed on to the consumer?

If you didn’t show up at the Commissioner’s meetings to voice your objection to the property tax increase, remember what my momma always said: “Silence is a form of acceptance!”

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.

Contact Bill & Kim Cook

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