Cutting property taxes tough, but possible


Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

But when it comes to property taxes, there’s likely still a way for you to change the outcome for this year. In all Georgia counties except Gwinnett, you still have time to appeal your assessment, though the window for that process is closing fast.

How much can you save and how do you do it?

Here are some questions I am often asked:

Q: You’ve said before that if a person owns property in Georgia, they will be billed for property taxes each and every year? Has that changed?

A: The answer is no. But it’s not too late to lower the tax bill:

Q: So what are we talking about here?

A: Georgia property tax is administered on a county-by-county basis, and we have 159 counties in Georgia. That means each county has a tax commissioner who decides when to mail an annual Notice of Assessment to each property owner in that county.

Q: What is in a Notice of Assessment?

A: The NOA contains the county’s proposed valuation of your property as of Jan. 1, 2017. Unless you appeal that dollar amount, it is used for determining the amount of your property tax bill for all of 2017.

Q: So when is the deadline? How much time does a homeowner have to file this appeal?

A: That’s the really confusing part.

The deadline for appealing an assessment is exactly 45 days after the notice of assessment was mailed by the tax commissioner.

Q: So how do we know when the deadline is for my county?

A: That’s an excellent question.

The 45-day countdown begins on the day the county claims it mailed the Notice of Assessment to you, but there is no guarantee that you will actually receive that notice.

Whether you actually receive it or not, the deadline is set in concrete at 45 days after mailing. And the only way to know for sure what the deadline is for your particular county is to call the tax commissioner’s office in your county.

Q: OK, so have we missed any deadlines yet?

A: Yes. Gwinnett County is traditionally the first county in Georgia to mail their notices, and theirs went out on April 7. Add 45 days to April 7 and you get May 22.

So if your property is in Gwinnett, you had until midnight on Monday, May 22 to file an appeal.

Q: Can I file my appeal online?

A: Maybe. In many counties, you can file your appeal online instead of mailing. Just search on your county and property tax appeal.

Cobb County mailed assessment notices on May 4. Its deadline is June 19. Most other counties in Georgia have not yet mailed.

Q: What if I can’t find any information?

A: Call your county tax commissioner office and tell them you want to file a property tax appeal. Make sure you strictly adhere to your county deadline, because there are no extensions for any reason.

Q: Where can we find out more about this process?

A: As a service to our readers, I am offering a free copy of my special report on Georgia property tax reduction with all the forms, procedures and instructions. You will find it at Money99.com under “resources.”

The bottom line: only you are responsible for making sure you aren’t paying more than your fair share of property taxes, and you can do something about it.

Atlanta native John Adams is a broker, broadcaster, and writer who owns and manages residential real estate in the Atlanta area. He answers questions on his radio show every Sunday at 11 a.m. on WGKA 920am. You can contact John through his website at Money99.com.



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