● Second, as county and municipal governments continue to feel the pinch of increased demand for services and decreased revenues from sales taxes, they feel justified in raising the ad valorem tax on real estate. The truth is that the overall tax digest, the total value of all taxable real property in the county, may have shrunk. If your property is overvalued, you are, in effect, subsidizing your neighbors. I expect a record number of protests this year.
● Finally, lowered valuations achieved as a result of a taxpayer protest typically remain in effect for three years after the year of change. While there is no law requiring this, it is common practice among tax assessors in Georgia. So if you can catch the bottom now, you may benefit for the next three years, even as the market recovers.
And a recovery is already under way.
Remember that it costs you nothing to file a protest, and it only takes a few minutes to do. And you are not required to present your case now. There will be plenty of time for that later. It may be months before you hear back from the assessor’s office, and you can gather your market data then. But if you fail to protest now, you lose your opportunity for this tax year.
If the county denies your protest, you then appeal the decision to the Board of Equalization. That’s a process we’ll cover in a future column.
Statistically, you have a one-in-three chance of getting a reduction.
My guess is that a far higher percentage will see success in gaining a drop in valuation this year.
John Adams is an author, broadcaster and investor. He answers real estate questions at noon Saturdays on WGKA (920 AM). For more real estate information or to make a comment, visit www.money99.com.