By Andy Goldstein, Property Tax Consultant www.yourtaxrep.com (article from The Messenger)
Now is the time of year when you can appeal the property value the Dekalb County uses to determine your property tax bill. Every property owner in the county receives an Annual Notice of Assessment which informs you of the taxable value of your property. When you receive this notice you have 45 days from the date on the notice in which to appeal. If you go to the Dekalb County Property Appraisal website and click “Forms,” you will be provided with a 2016 Real Estate Appeal Form. It is also important to click on Current Events which will give you important information regarding temporary billing value for properties under appeal.
Appealing your property value can be a time consuming and oft en frustrating process because the county has a big advantage in the process, and you have to play by their rules. I strongly suggest that you exercise your right to appeal. The county uses a mass appraisal process in determining your value. This means that they are using all of the sales in your neighborhood to value the homes in your neighborhood. Because Candler Park is a diverse and complex neighborhood, it is a difficult area to mass appraise. This By appealing you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even if you appeal and don’t get your value reduced you can still lock in the value for the year you appealed plus the following two years. The county has been very aggressive in raising values, especially in town, so locking in the value for three years is a large benefit. You can only reap this benefit, however, by enduring the entire appeal process.
The appeal process goes like this:
1. Once your appeal is fi led, it will be reviewed by the county staff appraiser assigned to your neighborhood. The name and number of the appraiser will be on your assessment notice.
2. Based on the review, the appraiser will either reduce the value or leave the value the same. If there is a reduction, you will receive a letter informing you of the reduction.
3. You have the option of accepting the new value or rejecting it. I suggest you reject the value and have the appeal certified to the Board of Equalization. You have 30 days in which to respond or else you lose your right to continue the appeal.
4. If the county does not make a change, your appeal will be certified to the Board of Equalization. I recommend continuing the appeal because you must go to the Board of Equalization in order to lock in the value. It is also possible to get your value lowered even more at the BOE.
The Board of Equalization is a citizens/taxpayers board whose job is to hear evidence presented by the property owner and by the county appraiser and to then determine the Fair Market Value of your property. If you don’t like the decision, you can take your appeal to Superior Court.
The BOE hearing is an informal process, but it is important to be well prepared. When you receive the date for your hearing, be aware that it is a calendar call. Your hearing will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so be prepared to wait.
The appeal process can be very frustrating. While the county ultimately has the home field advantage, I suggest you exercise your right to appeal. You can’t win if you don’t play.