Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign new property tax legislation into law that contains major changes regarding temporary taxes while an assessment is under appeal.
The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 197 in late March and sent it to the Governor on April first.
Higher Interest Cap
HB 197 changes the maximum interest paid to the taxpayer if they win their appeal, or to the collection authority if the appeal is rejected. The interest cap for non-homestead properties will go from $150 to $5,000.
This means property owners stand to benefit from higher interest payments if their appeal is successful. On the other hand, they face additional financial risk if the appeal is turned down.
Payment Options Expanded
Another important change in HB 197 allows taxpayers the option of paying 100% of their proposed tax rather than a lesser amount if appeals are pending.
Property owners can either pay:
100% of the proposed taxes
85% of the current year proposed taxes or taxes based on the prior year value,
whichever is less
If they pay 85% and their final taxes are greater than the 85% amount, then interest will be assessed on the unpaid balance, subject to the caps explained above. If they pay 100%, there will be no unpaid balance regardless of the outcome of the appeal. If they pay either 85% or 100%, and the appeal results in a refund, the jurisdiction will pay interest on the amount of overpayment.
Due to an appeal process that sometimes takes years to conclude, landlords have had issues collecting reimbursements from tenants that may have moved before the appeals were resolved. This option of paying taxes in full will alleviate that problem.