Two general types of specialized preferential assessment programs are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs authorizes assessment at 30% rather than 40% of fair market value for certain agricultural properties being used for bona-fide agricultural purposes.
The second type of preferential program is the Conservation Use program which provides that certain agricultural property, timber land property, environmentally sensitive property, or residential transitional property is to be valued and assessed for ad valorem tax purposes at its current use value rather than its Fair Market Value (FMV).
Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owner to enter into a covenant with the board of tax assessors to maintain the property in its qualified use for at least 10 years in order to qualify for the preference. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for either of these programs.
Beginning with Tax Year 2011 all taxable properties will receive an “Annual Tax Notice” in compliance with SB346 passed by the 2010 Legislators and signed into law by Governor Sonny Perdue.
Upon Receipt of this notice if you determine the value placed on your property is incorrect you may file an appeal. This appeal must be in writing and within 45 days of the mailing date of this notice. You must also indicate the path of your appeal by choosing one of the following three paths:
- Appeal to the County Board of Equalization with an appeal to Superior Court. Appeal may be based on value, uniformity, taxability or denial of exemption.
- Arbitration without an appeal to Superior Court on value only. The property owner, at his/her own expense must provide the Board of Tax Assessors a Certified Appraisal for Ad Valorem tax purposes by a Certified Appraiser, as of January 1 of the year that is being appealed along with filing fees.
- Hearing Officer with appeal to Superior Court for appeals of non–homesteaded real property valued in excess of $1,000,000. (H.B. 202 Amends Code Section 48-5-311(e.1)(1)(A) and reduces this threshold to $750,000 as of January 1, 2016.)
Appeals are filed with the Board of Tax Assessors who will review the original valuations along with any other issues the property owner listed in the appeal. If a change is made in the valuation the property owner is notified by receiving a new notice. Upon receipt of this new notice the property owner still determines the value is incorrect a written appeal must be filed within 30 days of the mailing date of the second notice to the Board of Tax Assessors and will follow the same path as originally selected. Upon completion of the Board of Tax Assessors review of the appeals they will be forwarded to the Clerk of Superior Court to be assigned to a Board of Equalization. The Clerk of Superior Court and the Board of Equalization or Hearing Officer will meet to set a date, time and location of the hearing and will notify the property owner. Decisions of the Board of Equalization or the Hearing Officer may be appealed to Superior Court within 30 days of the decision mail date. See “Appeals to the Superior Court” below.
Additionally, the appeal should not be based on any complaint about the amount of taxes levied on the property. An appeal is not an excuse for nonpayment of taxes.
Appeals to the Superior Court
Written notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days to the county board of tax assessors along with a check payable to “Clerk of Superior Court” (call 706-653-4398 for filing fee amount)
Once a decision has been made by the county board of equalization or a hearing officer, the taxpayer may appeal their decision to the superior court of the county by mailing or filing with the county board of tax assessors a written notice of appeal. The written notice of appeal should be mailed or filed within 30 days from which the decision of the county board of equalization was mailed.
Ad valorem taxes must be paid
Before the superior court can hear an appeal, the ad valorem taxes must be paid in an amount equal to the last year in which taxes were determined to be due. (O.C.G.A. 48–5–29)
Notification of certification of notice of appeal to clerk of superior court
The county board of tax assessors will certify the notice of appeal to the clerk of the superior court. The taxpayer or their attorney or agent will be served with a copy of the notice of appeal with the civil action file number assigned to the appeal.
Appeal heard by superior court
In most cases the appeal will be heard before a jury at the first term of court unless questions of law are at issue in the appeal.
Property Owner Could Recover Court Costs and Fees
In certain instances, the property owner may recover court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred in the appeal hearing before the superior court. The property owner could recover these costs and fees if the court finds the final value to be 85% or less (80% for commercial property) of the board of equalization’s determination of value. This would not apply, however, if the property owner had failed to return the property for taxation.