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Georgia Assessment Increase Moratorium Expires

by Paul Miller, Atlanta, April 2012

A statewide moratorium on real property assessment increases ends this year in Georgia. So far, efforts to extend it have failed. If lawmakers don't renew it, some property owners could see substantial value increases and higher tax bills.

 

Background

 

Legislation prohibiting increases in property values was signed into law three years ago with the goal of providing stability amid record real estate value declines. HB 233 applied to commercial and residential property tax bills for 2009-2011.

 

During the current 2011-2012 legislative session, several bills have been proposed but none have made it out of the House of Representatives. HB 31 comprehensively revises the manner and method of assessing real property while limiting valuation increases. HR 10 is a companion resolution to HB 31 and revises the ad valorem property tax system by allowing each county (by local referendum) to determine valuation increases. These two bills remain in committee.

 

Meanwhile, HB 381, which sought to extend the previous assessment moratorium through 2014 was recommitted back to committee. These bills are not expected to advance any further this year.

 

Taxes Still Went Up

 

Just because assessments were capped, it didn't freeze property taxes. Many jurisdictions simply raised their millage rates to bring in needed revenue.

 

The real estate market has improved since 2009. Nevertheless, some properties are still selling below their assessed value. Whether the assessment moratorium is extended or not, owners must be prepared to challenge any valuation that is overstated.