In a down housing market where recent home sales don't show a surge in house prices, Scott Osmon wonders why the Fulton County Tax Assessors Office shows his 2,400-square-foot home jumped 20 percent in assessed value.
So do his Inman Park neighbors, especially since the median price of a home in the Fulton County side of the 30307 Zip code, which includes that neighborhood, fell 6.04 percent in 2011 to $276,250 from $294,000 in 2010, according an Atlanta Journal-Constitution home sales analysis.
"Clearly, when valuations have been going down, to have our assessments go up is silly," Osmon told East Atlanta Patch.
Osmon, who, along with his wife, Elizabeth, put together a meeting Monday night of Inman Park homeowners regarding assessments, said he's not opposed to paying taxes.
"I'm happy to pay my share. I just don't want to pay more than my fair share," he said.
R.J. Morris, the Old Fourth Ward homeowner running to unseat current Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand, echoed that sentiment.
Morris, who has made a name for himself through years of successful appeals on county assessments of his properties, was invited by the Osmons to address homeowners and show them what they needed to do challenge their assessments.
By his calculations, total assessments in Atlanta neighborhoods south of I-20 increased by $151 million. For the neighborhoods north of I-20 the figure jumped $1.6 billion.
Inman Park seemed particularly hit, Morris said.
It didn't make sense to Osmon who said the assessors failed to take into account the diversity in housing stock in Inman Park.
Some homes are smaller, others mid-sized and then there are giant homes.
Averaged out, Osmon said his family — and many others in Inman Park — are paying more than they should be.
Morris was invited to answer questions and show homeowners how to figure out what they should reasonably be paying in property taxes and steps to take to challenge assessments they feel are erroneous.
His main points:
- You only have 45 days to appeal after you receive your assessment.
- Don't use the assessor’s form. Instead, write a letter that states: "I appeal my assessment to the Board of Equalization (BOE)." Include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and Parcel ID number found on the notice. Additionally, under the Georgia State Open Records laws, you also should "request all evidence used for your specific assessment value.” Also ask for a list of all prior-year sales used and also ask for a list of all previous years' sales that were not used, specifically for your assessment. Finally, request "your neighborhood assessor’s name, phone number and email address." Send this in certified mail, w ith return receipt requested. Click here for a sample letter.
- You will then receive a second notice stating the Assessors either did or did not correct your assessment. Whether or not they agree, always respond back to the second notice stating you "want to continue your appeal to the BOE." This will ensure your appeal is certified and it also freezes your assessment for an additional two years.
- You will receive a notice of a hearing date. This may take up to a year. Attend the hearing with your Open Records information and your evidence.
- Go to court for FREE if you know you are truly over assessed by 15% or more. You can file to go to court within 30 days of your BOE hearing. It does cost $213, but you can get that back with a 15% or more win. Additionally, Fulton County judges ususally assign tax cases to free mediation. At mediation, if the county feels you are right, they will settle and agree to give you back your filing fee.
Please watch the videos to hear Morris' step-by-step guide regarding what you should do regarding your property tax assessments.