Georgia's property tax system may change - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia's property tax system may change

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  State Senate Majority leader Chip Rogers proposed legislation that would bring 40 changes to the system. He says it would put more control in the hands of property owners.

Well, we all know that property values have fallen in the past couple of years because of the housing bust and economic downturn, but property assessments haven't necessarily done the same. This bill could change that.

It's no secret that Richard Thomas, who heads up the Dougherty County Taxpayers association, doesn't like the way taxes are levied here. 

"What we need in Dougherty County is not a property tax overhaul, what we need is a government overhaul," he said.

But the state government, is now considering changes to the property tax system. While some have called it an overhaul, Thomas says it falls far short.  "I'm glad that the state is initiating this action and I just hope we can compel our local authorities to follow suit and do something to give our property tax owners, this vast 'new minority' some fairness and equity at the table."

Homeowners like David Hewitt, who likes the provision in the bill that would give homeowners a year to appeal a new assessed value.  "When I get my tax bill, there's a statement in there that I can come by such and such a date and do something or other. Well, truth is, I might be out of town six months. It may not be convenient for me," he said. 

Now, he'll have longer to appeal. He can also appeal if his assessment goes up, but property values go down, like they have recently.  "I'm for doing them for what they are presently worth and not artificially high. As a taxpayer, I'm for that, yeah."

As is Thomas.  "I think it's good that the state has drawn attention to the fact that we have been beat over the head with inflated real estate values from 2006."

The bill would also allow for foreclosures and bank sales to be included in the evaluation process. 

Other changes include allowing counties to accept payment plans for property taxes and discounts for those who pay early.

Assessors must also respond to appeals within a defined time. he legislation also calls for a year-round appeals process.

For now, if you are unhappy with your property tax value, you can appeal through April first. The taxpayers association is holding a workshop to help you learn how to do that later this month.

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