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Just So You Know - Tax Assessments

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It’s property tax assessment season, and that means that homeowners throughout Georgia are receiving letters with their updated assessments. An assessment is based on the value of your home. Sometimes, the city may overvalue your home, resulting in higher-than-expected taxes. If you think your home was valued beyond what it should be, you have the option to appeal your assessment.

What Are Property Taxes

Property taxes are taxes paid to your local city government based on the value of your real property, i.e., your home. While most people dislike paying taxes, these local taxes stay in your community and often support projects and services that benefit you. Property taxes pay for local schools, parks, and roads, among other things. So if your taxes seem reasonable, pay them, and enjoy all the services your city offers.

How Taxes Are Assessed

Your property taxes are assessed as a percentage of the value of your home. So getting your home’s value right is critical to taxing it appropriately. Typically, houses do increase in value year over year. However, a significant jump in value over a short period may be a sign that your home is overvalued by the city assessors.

You should reasonably expect your home’s assessed value to rise by about 10% over a year or 20% over two years. If your home’s value has gone up more than that, take a closer look to see why your home value has risen so quickly.

Inspecting Your Assessment

The first place to look is in your assessment letter. The letter contains detailed information about your property that the assessors used to calculate its value. Make sure that there are no mistakes. Look at the lot size, the number of bedrooms, and any other features listed about your home. If there was an error in the data, you should easily be able to fix it with an appeal.

If the data look right, but you still think the home was overvalued, look at the assessments on comparable homes. Check with a realtor or on a site like realtor.com to determine the value of homes similar to yours. Make sure they are similarly sized, with comparable space, a similar number of rooms, and located in the same area as your home. If the assessment lists a home value close to these comps, it is unlikely that you will win an appeal.

Choosing to Appeal

If you decide you need to appeal your home’s assessment, you can do it yourself or go through an organization. Many organizations offer free or low-cost tax assessment appeal services. Check for what is available in your local area. And don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors. If your home was overvalued, other homes on your block were likely overvalued, too. Talk about what you think the problems are, and compare resources for filing an appeal.

There is a small chance that an appeal with result in a higher assessment, but most of the time, it will either stay the same or be reduced. It will take some time and energy, though. So make sure that the difference in value you expect will result in a significant enough change in your final taxes to make the appeal worthwhile.

If you choose to appeal, you can always seek the help of one of these TrustDALE certified tax appeal attorneys.