Need to Appeal Property Taxes in Georgia?

Atlanta Property Tax Appeal Lawyer Explains Property Tax Issues

There are many ways in which the state and local governments raise revenue. Ad Valorem taxes are a large source of revenue for many government bodies. These are taxes based on the value of real estate or personal property known as property taxes. Atlanta commercial property values can vary greatly for ad valorem taxation in different counties and are dependent on a number of factors. Generally, as market values increase, so will the property values. However, an assessor’s office may overvalue market influences on real world values and provide an exaggerated market value. On the other hand, in a weakened economy, property valuations should be reduced. However, at times, the assessor’s office may not catch up to the reduced values in time and maintain an inflated price for tax valuation. Therefore, if you are facing property tax issues or need to appeal a valuation, then you need the help of a qualified attorney.

Whatever your case may be, the legal team of Hecht Walker, P.C. is available to represent you today. We have experience with property tax appeals, which may be necessary when the county incorrectly values your property. We represent individuals and businesses in these appeals, and can offer you guidance through the complexities of property tax law.

What Happens If I Disagree With The Assessment Values for My Property?

Typically, the county tax assessor assesses property taxes on an annual basis. If the assessor sets the value of your property higher than it should be, then your taxes may increase dramatically. This can create challenges for businesses and property owners as they try to make do with limited resources while they navigate tough economic times or are trying to meet an operating budget.

As real and personal property tax attorneys in Atlanta, we know the methods used by the county’s tax assessors to assess and determine their property values. If a property owner believes the values are wrong, then he or she has the right to challenge it. Note, however, there is a brief window of time to file an appeal; therefore, it is important to contact our law firm for help as soon as you receive your tax bill. We can then guide you through the process of seeking a more fair tax assessment.

What Grounds Are Most often used Ad Valorem Tax Challenges?

Atlanta Property Tax and Appeal AttorneyThere are a few issues on which you can base your appeal. If you believe the property is tax exempt, then you would appeal the assessment of the property for taxation on taxability grounds. We have gained positive results for our clients on taxability appeals, including but not limited to properties that are held by public authorities through bond financed transactions.

Many cases are based on the fact that the assessment was not uniform. A review of the method of assessment of nearby properties (i.e. properties on the same street or properties in the same development) determines if the county assessor uniformly assessed similar properties. Uniformity is important, and if it appears that the assessor used different methods of assessment for similar properties, then we can appeal your taxes on the lack of uniformity.

The most common reason to appeal an assessment is due to valuation. You may consider working with legal representation and an appraiser or other professionals, such as an engineer or a surveyor, to show that the valuation submitted by the local government is incorrect and overstated. During this process, it is also important to speak with realtors to show that comparative sale values on like properties are not in the ballpark with the local government’s valuation of our client’s property. Also, accountants and CFOs may show that the local government’s income approach assessment is based on improper assumptions or unrealistic net operating income projections.

Other factors may be significant in your valuation appeal also. Did the county properly depreciate the property? Was there any obsolescence associated with the property? Did the county base its valuation of information that was incomplete or incorrect? We find these circumstances do occur, and sometimes it takes important teamwork for the client and our firm to determine the potential flaws in the analysis. Often, we find that that right presentation of facts and figures with legal pressure can gain a common sense valuation result between counsel and the tax assessor’s office or their attorney.

The grounds for your appeal will depend on your unique situation. Therefore, you should seek qualified legal advice from an Atlanta property tax appeal lawyer before proceeding in most situations.

Which Georgia Government Agency Handles Commercial Property Tax Appeals?

Generally, in the state of Georgia, the Board of Assessors must process a properly filed appeal, and the process is complicated. This can account for a large source of revenue for counties; therefore, there is always much at stake. Most cities and counties have an attorney who will represent the government’s interests.

For the most part, there are three governing bodies that oversee commercial property tax appeals. These governing bodies include the Board of Assessors, the Board of Equalization and the Superior Court. In addition, you may have the option to go through a Hearing Officer or arbitration process, depending on the nature of your dispute and the particular county that is involved. You should protect yourself with an attorney who is well-versed in property taxes.

How Does The Commercial Tax Appeal Process Work?

The tax appeal process can be long and involved. However, it begins with the filing of a proper Notice of Appeal to the County Board of Tax Assessors within the timeline expressed on the date given on Tax Assessment and Valuation notice for filing appeals. You must file your appeal during that time period or you will most likely lose your appeal rights, except for very unusual circumstances. The Board of Assessors will review the valuation of the property and then send notice of its decision. It will notify you if a change was made or if there are recommendations to pursue the issue with the Board of Equalization, a hearing officer or an arbitration hearing.

If the valuation is changed by the Board of Assessors before assignment to a hearing, but is still unacceptable to the taxpayer, then the taxpayer needs to notify the County again that he or she desires to continue the appeal. Then, the appeal should go the Board of Equalization, Hearing Officer or Arbitration. Depending on the process selected and whether the result is positive or negative, the taxpayer will then have to consider whether to appeal the result to the Superior Court, if allowed under the process utilized previously.

If My Company Owns A Property, Who Should Be Representing The Company During A Property Tax Appeal?

If you own an incorporated business or limited liability company which owns property, then you cannot represent the business yourself in court for a property tax appeal. Georgia law is specific on this point. Only a licensed attorney can represent an incorporated or limited liability company in court.

On the other hand, if an individual owns the property outright and there is no company listed as the owner, then an individual can represent themselves and their interests in court. Still, if you opt to represent your own interests, then you will face the opposing attorney representing the city, county or state. Therefore, it is not advised that you do so.

For Questions on Commercial Property Tax Appeals and Exemptions, Call a Property Tax Appeal Lawyer

When facing commercial property tax appeals, you want experienced representation from a qualified team of attorneys. One of our founding partners at Hecht Walker, P.C. is a former county attorney who represented the Tax Commissioner and Board of Assessors for a metro Atlanta county. In addition, he is a former state senator who authored legislation to protect taxpayers’ rights and co-authored legislation to ensure the burden of proof for valuation was on the county as opposed to the taxpayer. Thanks to this experience, our team of lawyers shares a unique skill set that can benefit you.

Call today to speak with an Atlanta property tax appeal lawyer.

Disclaimer

This information was posted on March 25, 2018 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The law changes on a daily basis, and the reader should engage an attorney through a written agreement before taking action in this area of the law.