Atlanta Property Tax and Appeal Attorney
Ad Valorem taxes are a large source of revenue for many government bodies. Atlanta’s commercial properties and businesses tax rates can vary greatly and are dependent on a number of factors. Generally, as market values increase, so will the property values. On the other hand, in a weakened economy, property valuations can remain grossly inflated. This can create challenges for businesses and property owners as they try to make do with limited resources while they navigate tough economic times. Typically, property taxes are assessed by the county tax assessor on an annual basis.
What happens if I disagree with the assessment values?
As real estate and property tax attorneys in Atlanta, we know the methods used by the state of Georgia’s tax assessors to assess and determine their property values. If a property owner believes the assessments are wrong, he or she has the right to challenge it. Note, however, there is a brief window of time in which an appeal can be filed, so it’s 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 kinds of appeals can I use in my ad valorem challenge?
There are a few issues from 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.
Also, we assist clients on appeals based on the ground of the assessment not being uniform. A review of the method of assessment of nearby properties (i.e. properties on the same street or properties in the same development) can be performed to determine 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, we can appeal your taxes on the lack of uniformity.
The most common reason to appeal an assessment is due to valuation. We can work with you and an appraiser or other professional such as an engineer or a surveyor to show that the valuation submitted by the local government is incorrect and overstated. Similarly, we work 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, we work with accountants and CFOs to show that the local government’s income approach assessment is based on improper assumptions or unrealistic net operating income projections. We know how to work with clients and their professional team to work toward positive results for them.
Which government agency in the state of Georgia grants commercial property tax appeals?
Generally, in the state of Georgia, the Board of Assessors is required to process a properly filed appeal, and the process is a bit complicated. This is 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 is hired to represent the government’s interests. You need to be represented by an attorney who is well-versed in property taxes.
For the most part, there are three governing bodies that oversee commercial property tax appeal. 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’s involved.
How does the process work?
The process begins with the filing of a proper Notice of Appeal to the County Board of Tax Assessors within 45 days of the date of your County’s Tax Assessment and Valuation notice. (Please note that the legislature may change this timeline at any moment). 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. Thereafter, 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, thereafter, the taxpayer will then have to consider whether or not to appeal the result to the Superior Court, if allowed under the process utilized previously.
If my company owns a property, can I represent the company myself during a property tax appeal?
Not in Court because the law is very specific. 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, an individual can represent themselves and their interests in court.
Note, however, should an individual opt to represent his or her own interests, he or she will face the opposing attorney representing the city, county or state. Our real estate tax lawyers strongly encourage anyone considering this option to speak with legal counsel first.
Why is Hecht Walker, P.C. the better choice in the state of Georgia for commercial property tax appeals and exemptions?
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 and is a former state senator who authored legislation to protect taxpayers’ rights and 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 will benefit you, our client.
This information was posted on 08-23-2016 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.