Georgia Senate votes for major property tax overhaul - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Georgia Senate votes for major property tax overhaul

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The Georgia Senate approved a bill that will overhaul property taxes.

For one thing it will require homes and property to be assessed every year.

Some Dougherty County home owners think it will lead to more fair taxation.  But it could also cost a lot more.

The Georgia Senate unanimously approved Majority Leader Chip Rogers' overhaul of the state property tax system. The bill has 40 changes to what Rogers calls a cumbersome, unfair tax system. South Georgia property owners say it's needed.

Jay Cole says he likes the new Georgia assessment bill that would decide every year what his home's tax value is.

 Cole said "Sure I think it would be more fair. I think the real estate values, your property taxes would more reflect what the current values of your property are."

Clinton Miles did not like the assessed value Dougherty County put on his business property, and likes the changes in this Senate proposal.

 Miles said "Yea, I think it would be a good idea. That way it would be fair for everybody."

Home sales prices in Georgia have plummeted in the past couple of years. The bill requires that homes be assessed every year.

Allows tax payers to appeal their property assessment year round.

But puts a time limit on assessor action in response to appeals.

Tax assessors must apply foreclosures and bank sales to comparable sales.

Assessment notices and appeal forms must be the same statewide.

The bill is 60 pages long, and Dougherty County Tax Director Denver Hooten is still studying the proposal. She is not sure how they would accomplish the annual assessment.

 Hooten said "For 2007, it took a year and a half, so I don't know exactly how that is going to work. And it cost a lot of money for the taxpayers. It cost roughly one million dollars last time."

Hooten said it would take money for computer software, probably more employees, and expenses, like the $20,000 for postage to send out the notices to 34,700 taxable property owners.

 Hooten said "Those taxpayers that think it's a great idea, that's exactly who is going to be paying for it."

Cole says state legislators have a lot of questions to answer before the property tax system overhaul becomes law.

Cole said "The devils in the details."

Senator Rogers said the bill might bring in less money and cost more, but if homeowners are taxed fairly, it's worth it.

The measure now moves to the House. Hooten says she thinks it will pass in some form this year.

Currently Georgia law does not specify when counties must hold assessments on property values. Senator Rogers says his ultimate goal is to end all taxes on homes, land, and buildings.

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