A lot of property owners choose to appeal their own property taxes. But many find out that the process is more difficult than anticipated. Our Property Tax Consulting team has found out it can be “Art vs Science.”
Kiplinger recently wrote an article which I have quoted and referenced in this article below. The article states that “According to the National Taxpayers Union, as many as 60% of properties in the U.S. are assessed at a higher amount than their current value.” We agree with this statement and find it accurate in many cases. I will go into much more detail below regarding how the process works and things to watch out for should you choose to tackle it alone. I will point out good reasons why you should consider using a Property Tax Consultant and, of those, why it is better to use a company that works on a contingency basis rather than one that charges up-front fees.
To appeal a property in Georgia, you should first make sure that you have a good case for an appeal. Essentially, what are the reasons that your property taxes are too high? If you don’t have a case for your commercial or residential property, don’t waste the time because there is always the possibility an assessor could increase the value even more after the appeal is filed. Our Property Tax Professionals have seen this at the Board of Equalization appeal level. The Fulton County Assessor’s office in particular has been known to stay tough in keeping values high by increasing them. If the increase happens, you can always file your appeal to superior court but that adds an entirely new set of expenses and complications. It’s always good to make sure your property taxes are assessed fairly before moving to the superior court level.
When dealing with commercial properties, there are three approaches when attempting to lower the fair market value: Uniformity, Sales and the Financial.
With Uniformity, you must first locate other properties comparable to your subject. The properties must be similar properties and in the same area as the subject property. We have seen properties that backed to a street, that have more parking or a retention pond, are in a flood plain and many variables that can be excluded because they are not similar enough to the subject property. Many factors are inadmissible to the taxpayer’s property tax appeal.
Using Sales Comparable is the 2nd method used and this can also be a problem. As most people are aware, values are rising and cap rates are compressing. Determining fair market values with sales comps allows us to find a range of values that might justify adjusting your tax value. Make sure the comps were sold within the acceptable range of dates. We have seen some counties use sales comps from prior years.
The financial approach is the final method we use to fight values. Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, Rockdale, Henry and Forsyth all use a different model and the model can change annually. Each county will not let you use your mortgage, interest expense and property tax as a line item.
Make sure you do your homework if you decide to go at it alone but it’s always better to use a professional company – on that has relationships, is known and seen in the county on a continuous basis. And select a company that works on a contingency basis, rather than one that requires up-front fees. It is important that your tax rep remain motivated to get you the lowest possible valuation on your assets.Read More how to appeal Property Taxes In Georgia.