Along with the tax bill came some information about the 2017 tax rate. I’m not going to dive into all the numbers and millage rates….just some of the other information that was there. This can be useful to you if you are a new home owner, or perhaps looking to relocate to Atlanta. This will help you learn about the tax expense and benefit of owning a home (subject to any current tax plan under consideration by Congress)
2017 Tax Rate
Under Georgia Law, the Board of Tax Assessors determines the ‘Fair Market Value’ of your property, then ‘assesses’ it at 40% for tax purposes. Each year, Fulton County Government, the school boards, and each municipality set their respective budgets and millage rates. The following charts provide information concerning the financing of these services, including credits for sales tax. The Tax Bill was designed to serve the billing needs for both the Unincorporated area and Incorporated Cities within Fulton County. Your bill may also may include a rate for a Community Improvement District.
You’ll find the aforementioned charts at the bottom of this post!
Basic Homestead Exemption
To qualify for basic Homestead Exemption you must own and occupy the property as your legal residence as of January 1 of the current tax year. So if you purchased in 2017, you will BE the owner as of January 1, 2018 and can file for the Exemption on your 2018 tax bill. You must file for this exemption by April 1, 2018 to receive it for the 2018 Tax Year. You can file your Homestead Exemption at any time, but, you must file by April 1.
Once you receive the Exemption, it is automatically renewed each year as long as you continuously occupy the home under the same ownership.
Property Tax Returns
If you feel your property value is not reflective of fair market value, you should file a Property Tax Return requesting a change in the assessment between January 1 and April 1. If your Return is not accepted, you will receive your assessment notice, and then you have 45 days to file a formal appeal. (See Below)
Payment of Taxes on Property Under Appeal (Don’t Pay, Don’t Stay….sort of)
When you signed your mortgage paperwork at closing (unless you paid cash) you heard me mention the phrase “If you don’t pay, you don’t stay” as it relates to your lender being able to foreclose on your home if you don’t make your payments. In this case, if you file an appeal, your taxes will still be paid by your lender out of your escrow account. If you are successful in your appeal, and your tax bill is reduced, you would see a credit (or refund) back to you from your lender when they review your escrow account.
But, if you did pay cash, you still have to pay the tax bill you received to avoid interest, penalty, and/or foreclosure.
The Board of Tax Assessors is required to issue a notice of assessment for taxable tangible real and personal property. Once you receive this notice, you have 45 days to appeal said assessment. You can appeal based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. When you make this appeal, it must be written and you must declare your chosen method of appeal…..
Three Methods of Appeal
Board of Equalization: The appeal is filed by the property owners and reviewed by the Board of Assessors. The Board may change assessment and sena new notice. You may appeal THIS assessment in the amended notice within 30 days. The second appeal made by the property owner or any initial appeal which is not amended by the Board of Assessors is automatically forwarded to the Board of Equalization. A hearing is then scheduled and the Board renders its decision. A further appeal would be to Superior Court.
Hearing Officer: The taxpayer may appeal to a Hearing Officer, who is a certified appraiser, when the issue of the appeal is the value of non-homestead real property, but only when the value is equal to or greater than $1M. Not satisfied here….Superior Court.
Arbitration: An Arbitration appeal is filed with the Board of Assessors who must notify the taxpayer of the receipt of said appeal within 45 days. The taxpayer must submit a certified appraisal of the subject property. It may be accepted…or rejected. Rejected….the Board of Assessors must certify the appeal to the County Clerk of Superior Court for arbitration. Arbitration is authorized by the judge and a hearing is scheduled within 30 days.
The arbitrator will issue a decision at the conclusion of the hearing, which is final and which may not be appealed further.
(Now you know why you see arbitration in many real estate contracts (say a new home builder) as you can’t drag out an issue with multiple appeals or a law suit.)