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Georgia Assessment Freeze Challenged in Court

by Paul Miller, Atlanta, May 2019

 

Under the Georgia Tax Code, property values established as the result of an appeal remain in place for the assessment year and the subsequent two years. There are some exceptions, however, due to certain “material factors”.

 

Recent court rulings have created confusion over whether normal market conditions that lead to higher values constitute a material factor that negates the two-year assessment freeze.

 

Winners and Losers

 

Rulings on Statute 299 (c) have been mixed in Dekalb County Superior Court.

 

Judge Gregory Adams ruled in favor of a multifamily property owner in In CWS SGARR Brookhaven LLC v. DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors Civil Action File No.18CV1739. Judge Adams said the following occurrences are not material factors that should overturn an assessment freeze:

 

1.

 

Changes in market condition.

2.

 

General rise in the value of real estate.

 

A few weeks later, Judge Adams ruled in favor of DeKalb County in Columbia Brookhaven v. DCBTA Civil Action File No. 18CV3951. In this case, the sales analysis of Class A apartments in the 18th District of Dekalb County showed the subject property’s value was not in line with other like properties and a revaluation was necessary to place the property within the median sales ratio.

 

Judge Gail Flake ruled against the taxpayer in both CSP Community Owner LLC v. DCBTA Civil Action File No. 18CV6834 and Dunwoody Holdings 1 LLC v. DCBTA Civil Action File 18CV71994. Judge Flake let the phrase “an occurrence of other material factors that substantially affect the fair market value of such property” be broadly interpreted.

 

Court of Appeals Will Rule

 

Superior Court decisions do not set precedent, but several taxpayers and DeKalb County have appealed their cases to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Once of the state Court of Appeals issues a decision, it will set precedent that could have a substantial effect on assessments going forward.