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**URGENT** Public Service Announcement

Taxes have been frozen by the State Legislature through this year, so no property values should have increased – if anything, some should have gone down.  If a property owner feels their property didn’t go down enough, then they should appeal the valuation and follow the procedures listed here.  If you want  to appeal online, click here.   It is important to remember that you have 45 days from the date on the notice to file a written appeal, and for the Online Appeal Form – To be considered timely, this form must be received or postmarked by June 27, 2011.  This form must be printed out and signed by the property owner/agent.  Please also print and include the questionnaire with your filing.  IMPORTANT: IF YOU ARE USING THIS FORM ON THE WEBSITE, THE INFORMATION THAT YOU HAVE TYPED WILL NOT BE SAVED.  IN ORDER TO SEND THIS APPEAL BY EMAIL, YOU MUST SAVE A COPY OF THE DOCUMENT TO YOUR COMPUTER, OPEN A NEW EMAIL MESSAGE AND SEND AS AN ATTACHMENT.  THE BOARD OF ASSESSORS WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR APPEALS THAT ARE NOT RECEIVED DUE TO MISUSE.

The Columbia County Board of Tax Assessors is required by Georgia State Law to send out an assessment notice informing taxpayers of valuation changes.  Upon receiving the notice, taxpayers have 45 days from the date on the notice to file a written appeal. 
TIME IS IMPORTANT – LATE APPEALS ARE INVALID

 The following information should be included in your written appeal: 

  • Property ID #
  • Your name, address, daytime phone number and email address
  • Reason for appealing (taxability, uniformity, value or denial of homestead exemption)
  • Any pertinent information to support your appeal
  • Whether you would like your appeal to be heard by the county Board of Equalization, a hearing officer or an arbitrator (see below for details)  ***THIS CHOICE MUST BE MADE AT THE TIME OF APPEAL***
     

Submit your appeal: 
By mail:   Board of Tax Assessors, P O Box 498, Evans, GA  30809
By fax:     706-312-7476
By email:  assessor@columbiacountyga.gov

Once your appeal has been filed with the Columbia County Board of Tax Assessors within the time provided, you will be sent an acknowledgement of your appeal.  You may also be mailed a questionnaire to fill out or a member of the appraisal staff may contact you.  The Board of Tax Assessors will review the valuation, taxability or uniformity issues in question.  The value may be increased, decreased or left the same.  

If you are not satisfied with the decision from the Board of Assessors, you have 3 options:  

  • Appeal to the County Board of Equalization: The appeal based on value, uniformity, taxability or denial of exemption is filed by the property owner and reviewed by the board of assessors. The board of assessors may change the assessment and send a new notice. The property owner may appeal the assessment in the amended notice within 30 days. This second appeal made 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 scheduled and conducted and the Board of Equalization renders its decision at the conclusion of the hearing. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.
  • Appeal to a Hearing Officer: The taxpayer may appeal to a Hearing Officer, who is a state certified general real property or state certified residential real property appraiser and is approved as a hearing officer by the Georgia Real Estate Commisioner [(sic)…we left this here for Barry Paschal so hopefully he will write at least 2 columns on Columbia County professionals spelling something wrong (“Commisioner”)…more than 2 since he devoted that many to private citizen Jim Bartley’s spelling error] and the Georgia Real Estate Appraiser Board, when the issue of the appeal is the value or uniformity of value of non-homestead real property, but only when the value is equal to or greater than $1,000,000. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision of the hearing officer, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.
  • Appeal to an Arbitrator: An appeal of value may be filed to Arbitration by filing your appeal specifying Arbitration with the board of assessors within 45 days of the date of the notice. The Board of Assessors must notify the taxpayer of the receipt of the arbitration appeal within 10 days. The taxpayer must submit a certified appraisal of the subject property within 45 days of the filing of the notice of appeal which the board of assessors may accept or reject. If the taxpayer’s appraisal is rejected the board of assessors must certify the appeal to the county clerk of superior court for arbitration. The arbitration is authorized by the judge and a hearing is scheduled within 30 days. The arbitration will issue a decision at the conclusion of the hearing, which is a final and which may not be appealed further. If the taxpayer’s value is determined by the arbitrator to be the value, the county is responsible for the clerk of the superior court’s fees, if any, and the fees and costs the arbitrator. If the board of assessors’ value is determined by the arbitrator to be the value, the taxpayer is responsible for the clerk of the superior court’s fees, if any, and the fees and costs the arbitrator.  

The taxpayer or the Board of Tax Assessors may appeal the decision of the Board of Equalization or the hearing officer to Superior Court.    

  • Written notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days to the county board of tax assessors
    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.  

For more information about the appeal process, print the Summary of the Appeal Process.

We hope that this was helpful and that you make use of the information provided above.   REMEMBER THE DATES AND THE PROCEDURES AND THE FORMS.

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Discussion

One thought on “**URGENT** Public Service Announcement

  1. Home values in Georgia have decreased 11% according to the following article:

    http://www.gpb.org/news/2011/02/10/home-values-fall-more-homeowners-underwater-in-georgia

    I don’t think they have decreased quiet this much in Columbia County, but they have probably decreased 7 to 8%. If your tax value has not decreased you should probably look at appealing it.

    Posted by lcu1577 | June 11, 2011, 9:00 pm

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