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Georgia Property Tax Bills Filed

by Paul Miller, Atlanta, March 2017

 

Georgia lawmakers are considering several different property tax bills in their 2017 session. The General Assembly's regular legislative session is set to adjourn on March 30, 2017.

 

Valuation of Section 42 Properties

 

House Bill 285 would revise the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of low income properties that receive Section 42 Federal Tax Credits.

 

The proposed change on lines 22-32 broadens the restrictions applicable to the valuation of tax credit property by prohibiting the use of the values of restricted properties as comparables for unrestricted properties.

 

The proposed change at lines 33-41 allows credits to be considered in the market approach, but only if the comparables had unused credits transferred as part of an arms-length sale. Also, tax credits are not to be considered as income for the purpose of the income approach.

 

This bill was heard by the Ways and Means Committee and will probably be amended for clarity.

 

Owner Supplied Income Data

 

With House Bill 325 the effect of the proposed change in the law is to require use of the income approach based upon market data and comparables if the property owner supplies actual income data. If no such data is supplied, the income approach based upon market data, or any other valid approach, can be used.

 

The intent is to allow owners to make the election to either supply data, or otherwise have the board pick what approach that it feels is most appropriate. It does not force the owner to supply any data. This could be an advantage for some property owners with poor actual income but high comparables.

 

The bill was amended for language clarity, and passed the Ways and Means Committee as amended.

 

Supplementing Owner's Data/Valuation Manuals

 

Section 1 of House Bill 347 is similar to HB 325, with the added twist that market data from the commissioner may supplement the owner’s data.

 

Section 2 essentially allows a digest investigation to commence based on a letter from an owner and to proceed based upon any failure to comply with law and regulations, as opposed to “substantial” failure.

 

Section 3 basically says that if the local board does not have a copy of the department valuation manual to provide to the taxpayer, then the fair market value asserted by the taxpayer will be entered for the year under appeal. If the owner did not supply a value, then the lesser of the prior year's fair market value or 85% of the value assessed by the board of tax assessors will be entered.

 

This bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee but has not been heard.

 

Electronic Filing/Appeals to a Hearing Officer

 

House Bill 374 is a proposed update to the law in regard to electronic filing.

 

It also proposes lowering the threshold for non-homestead property appeals to a hearing officer from a market valuation of $750,000 to $500,000. This will likely increase the hearing officer appeal option exponentially.

 

The change on lines 660-663 proposes that a value freeze does not apply when the assessor and owner agree on a value, prior to the appeal going to the board of equalization.

 

HB 374 has also been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee but has not been heard.