Here's how to appeal Georgia's property tax assessments

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Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

He's right for the most part, but FOX 5 real estate expert John Adams responds by saying “Not so fast!”

When it comes to your 2019 property taxes, there’s still a way in most counties for you to appeal your assessment for this year, but the window for that process is closing fast.

Adams joined Good Day to answer all your questions about how to take advantage of this tax situation.

Q: If a person owns property in Georgia, they will be billed for property taxes each and every year. Has that changed?

A: The answer is no, but for property in most counties, it’s not too late to lower the tax bill.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Georgia property tax is administered on a county-by-county basis, and we have 159 counties in Georgia.  That means each county has a tax commissioner, and that individual decides when to mail an annual notice of assessment to each individual property owner in that county.

Q: What is in the notice of assessment?

A: The NOA contains the county’s proposed valuation of the property as of January 1, 2019. Unless a person appeals that dollar amount, that number automatically becomes the value used for determining the amount of the property tax bill for all of 2019.

Q: So when is the deadline?  How much time does a homeowner have to file this appeal?

A: Here's the really confusing part. The deadline for appealing an assessment is exactly 45 days after the notice of assessment was mailed by the County Tax Commissioner.  And each County Tax Commissioner decides when he or she will mail to property owners. And it doesn’t matter if you actually received it or not.

Q: So how do can a person tell when the deadline is for their particular county?

A: The 45-day countdown begins on the day that the county claims it mailed the notice of assessment to you, but there is no guarantee that you will actually receive that notice.  

Whether you get it or not, the deadline is set in concrete at 45 days after the mailing of assessment notices has occurred. And the only way to know for sure what the deadline is for your particular county is to call the County Tax Commissioner's Office.

Q: Have any deadlines been missed yet?

A:  Gwinnett County is traditionally the first county in Georgia to mail their notices, and some of theirs went out on April 5. So their earliest deadline was May 20. If a property is in Gwinnett, check your assessment notice. But the deadline for most counties has not passed yet.

In many counties, you can file your appeal online instead of mailing. Just search on a specific county and property tax appeal.

Q: Where can a person find out more about this process?

A: John Adams is offering a free copy of his special report on Georgia property tax reductions with all the forms, procedures, and instructions on FOX 5 Atlanta's Facebook chat.

The bottom line is only you are responsible for making sure you aren’t paying more than your fair share of property taxes, and you can do something about it.