Georgia counties, large and small, are finding ways to handle an onslaught of property tax appeals. The increased workload stems from new laws that took effect last year. Officials say the legislation achieved its intent of making the appeals process more visible and less complicated for the average taxpayer.
Property Owners Benefit
Property tax reform legislation (Senate Bill 346) gave property owners greater appeal rights. Specifically, it mandated:
Annual assessment notices that contain property tax estimates
A longer appeal period of 45 days, rather than 30 days
The law also transferred the Board of Equalization (BOE) panels from the control of the assessor's office to the Superior Court clerks.
BOE Panels Stay Busy
The Fulton County BOE processed 15,000 appeals for the 2010 tax year and they're handling 31,000 for 2011. As a result, the county is now operating ten boards simultaneously each weekday, up from the previous seven boards.
Smaller counties are also implementing additional boards and increasing members' work schedules.
To make the system more efficient, DeKalb and Cobb Counties have changed from appointment-based appeals to a calendar-call system. This requires owners to appear on a scheduled day, sign in and be heard on a first-come, first-serve basis. That way, no time is lost on late appointments and no shows.
Senator Chip Rogers, who sponsored SB 346, says it's unfortunate that taxpayers must foot the bill for added resources to handle more appeals. He said, "The fact is if the assessments were correct, there wouldn't be so many appeals."