Are Your Property Taxes Are Too High?

Posted on June 25, 2012 by

In many Metro Atlanta Counties, the tax assessments have been mailed and the deadline to file an appeal is fast approaching.  If you have not received a notice, check with the county.  You do not want to miss the opportunity to appeal if your assessment is unreasonable.   

If you are seeking information for a particular county, you can Google the County name to get the Tax assessor’s contact information.  It is important to be proactive on this. 

In many areas of the country Property values have dropped substantially over the last several years.

The rash of foreclosures, a shrinking employment and a huge number of properties in Lender inventory as well as a high level of homeowners substantially delinquent on mortgage payments has caused an erosion of values.  Depending on where you are living, it is quite conceivable that we have not reached the bottom yet.

In many areas of the country local governments have experienced loss of revenue from property tax collections because of falling values and a substantial number of properties in distress and or off the tax rolls.  Some jurisdictions have also had shrinking populations.

As property values fall, local tax assessors are in a quandary.  They have a substantial job of determining a “market value” of the properties in their jurisdiction.  In a falling market it’s a tough call.  The tax assessors must value based on current market conditions, but the value figure is a snapshot of values as of a certain date. The value may drop in the time between the “appraisal” and the sending of the tax bill. They must utilize comparable sales which may be dated. They have to wrestle with distress sales, i.e. foreclosures, and they have a limited budget.

Consider that a fee appraiser charges between $300 and $500 dollars to appraise a single family house and spend a considerable amount of time and effort earning that fee. The tax assessor does not have the budget or the manpower to allow that much time per property.  They must instead utilize mass appraisal techniques which work fairly well if there is adequate data and the property closely conforms to the available sales data.

Unfortunately, in many cases it does not. In addition as they have limited time per property for field work, errors sometimes occur in the property descriptions. Square footage, room count, extras, quality, and condition factors may be in error.  It is amazing how well assessors do considering the limitations placed on them. In many jurisdictions they must “re-appraise” each property every four years and must get the tax digest approved by the state Department of Revenue.  The Revenue Department does not “adjust” individual assessments but must determine that the assessment collectively fall within an acceptable range, i.e. 85 to 105 percent of value.

As a result of the inherent limitations and the current economic situation it is important to scrutinize your tax bill/assessment when it comes in and if you do not agree with the value assigned to your property, appeal. You have limited time to appeal so get an appeal off quickly. There are several good sites that will give you insight into this process.

In Georgia go to the Georgia Department of Revenue Site:

The Fulton County Property Taxpayers Foundation is another good site:

Most states’ Departments of Revenue will have information on property tax and the appeal process. Some Jurisdictions will have a nonprofit 501c3 foundation.  In addition there are companies/individuals that will handle the appeal process for a fee or a percentage of savings.  

Gordon CattsGordon Catts has a widely diversified real estate background. He has been involved in building, appraisal, title work, and brokerage, as well as training, mentoring and consulting. Gordon has trained thousands of real estate investors nationally, as well as locally in the Greater Atlanta area. Gordon has been actively involved in the formation of real estate groups on a local and national level.

Contact Gordon Catts


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