Fulton County will send its 2018 property assessments out on Tuesday. If you own a home in the county, here are the five things you need to know.
1. RISING VALUES: In many cases, property values will be substantially higher this year. In 2017, Fulton County leaders froze values at 2016 levels after residents complained about huge jumps in their values. That won’t happen again, though the values are even higher. Before last year’s freeze, property values were up an average of 13 percent in the county. This year, residential values are an average of 11 percent higher than those original 2017 values in Atlanta, and an average of 19 percent higher in the rest of the county.
Members of the county’s board of assessors say they’re accurate after appraisers spent much of this year going over property values. That board approved this year’s values in April. County leaders have spent a lot of time warning residents that property values have been rising, and their assessments are likely to be higher.
2. RISING TAXES? Those higher values are likely to translate into higher property taxes for most residents. While local governments have the ability to adjust their tax rates down, the change may not fully eliminate tax increases for most people. Tax rates have yet to be set, so it’s impossible to tell now how much the change in property values will affect property taxes in Fulton.
3. HOW IT HAPPENED: The county got here by failing to keep up with property values over the course of several years as they rose following the recession. A recent report from a Department of Revenue Performance Review Board said the county had not performed a comprehensive reevaluation of all property since 2006. It faulted the county for failing to maintain an accurate and uniform tax digest, and said the appraiser’s office was disorganized. In 2013, Fulton County government was fined $1.72 million for problems with its tax digest. That fine was deferred until 2019, and will be waived if Fulton has addressed its issues by then.
4. FILING AN APPEAL: Even though the digest appears to be more accurate now, your individual values may seem off. If they are, you can appeal the values. To do so, go to fultonassessor.org/property-appeals to find details about online filing and forms that can be printed to appeal through the mail. The window to appeal property values is 45 days from the date the assessment notice is mailed.
5. TAX RELIEF PLANS: Legislators passed a number of bills that will give Fulton residents the chance to vote on property tax relief in 2019 and in the future, though none of them will be effective this year. This fall, residents in Atlanta will have the chance to increase the base homestead exemption for Atlanta Public Schools from $30,000 to $50,000 until 2021. If approved by voters, it would mean some residents who previously paid nothing in school property taxes, because the $30,000 exemption covered the value of their homes, could have to pay. Homeowners whose properties are valued up to $60,000 would pay property taxes on only the first $10,000.
Residents in the Fulton County Schools’ area will get to vote on a provision that limits assessed values from going up more than 3 percent each year, regardless of the actual increase in property values on a home. The same choice will go before voters in Alpharetta, Mountain Park, Milton, Johns Creek and Roswell. Sandy Springs and Fulton County already have similar provisions.
Another measure targeted the city of Atlanta portion of the tax bill. Like the bills for the Fulton County Schools and the north Fulton cities, it would provide a homestead exemption on city taxes that limits assessed values from going up more than 2.6 percent each year.