We all know we’ve been living in a hot spot for real estate sales and values, but it seems like the Atlanta area tax assessors offices are finally starting to notice and the 2017 property tax assessments have been a shock for many residents.
I’ve had clients calling me with concerns about what this will mean for their tax bill this year and asking if it’s worth appealing. In short, the answer is often yes, but the procedure varies from county to county, and there are times when appealing may actually not be a great idea. I can help you with that decision if you’d like and pull the comparable properties and assessments that the County is most likely looking at.
- The deadline to appeal in Cobb County is June 18. Thankfully, the procedure in Cobb County is also pretty simple; click here for the Cobb County Tax Assessors Office for the details of your property’s assessed Fair Market Value and to get started on an appeal. If you run into trouble, give me a call; I’d be happy to help with the first level of appeal or with the Board of Equalization.
- Fulton County residents have 45 days from receipt of their assessments to appeal. Click here for the Fulton County Board of Assessors with links to property search and appeals. Fulton County government has also posted instructions here for how to appeal online.
If you find that your appeal is more complex than you are comfortable handling on your own, I recommend a couple of firms that have had a lot of success in handling appeals for my clients.
- Walter Holtz at BOE Tax Appeals has been successful for my clients in the City of Atlanta
- Campbell & Brannon specialize in real estate law and have been helpful with clients in both Fulton and Cobb. They sent out an email recently with some key points that I thought were good to know:
- The county assigns a property a Fair Market Value (FMV) for taxation purposes
- This assessment includes an estimate of taxes for 2017 based on the FMV
- No taxes are due at this time, 2017 tax bills will be sent out later this year
- Assessments can be appealed with the county
- The assessor mails the notice to the owner of record as of Jan. 1, 2017
- A 2017 buyer will not receive the notice in their name as it was mailed to the seller
All appeals must be filed within 45 days from the date of the tax notice
It’s important to note that an increased assessment of FMV is not necessarily going to reflect the same percentage increase in your tax bill. Municipalities, school boards and counties set their millage rate based on budget needs and the assessed property values so the estimated tax rate on the assessment may change. That’s why it’s a good idea to get as much information as you can and be aware of your options in advance. A surprise tax hike is never fun, but preparation and information is key. Cobb County has a timeline and explanation of its procedure here.
When is it not a great idea to appeal? If you don’t want a spotlight on your property value, don’t appeal. If you’ve made significant improvements that aren’t reflected in the assessment, don’t appeal. If comps are selling in your area for significantly higher than your assessment, don’t appeal. However, make sure that you have all of the data you need to make that decision, and I am happy to help, either with information or referrals to trusted experts in this field.
I personally went thru the process last year and have quite a few lessons learned. For example: the Board of Equalizations in Cobb doesn’t equalize to different neighborhoods, only your street. Living in Vinings, I felt that the comparable properties would be most streets in “Vinings Village”, not true. My street has had a spike in high property sales, thus all of us on the street have received higher assessments as a result. They will only equalize you to the lowest value on your street. To fight a larger battle, it may require action of many members of a street to appeal jointly. With senior exemption coming into play in Cobb, many neighbors have less of a desire to fight the assessment as their tax is so low already. Whereas in Fulton County, the increase applies to seniors as well and may be a good reason to fight the battle. If you’ve just purchased your property and the next year it goes up, you may need to appeal. If it’s what you paid, you may still have an argument if the others on the street are significantly lower. Once you’ve won the battle, you will have that value for 3 years before they can raise it again. I’ve tried to compile some helpful information here so be sure to click on the links in this article for a little more context and some basic tools for navigating your appeal.