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State Property Tax Hearings
Friday, 18 December 2009

December 18--  The Georgia Senate Press Office furnishes this information on hearings regarding the state's property tax system.

"Georgians from across the state gathered at the State Capitol this week to voice concerns and objections to Georgia’s current property tax system.   Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) is chairing the Property Tax Assessment Committee to reform Georgia’s tax system and put the greater burden on the government rather than the taxpayer.

“Georgians no longer have confidence in this antiquated and broken property tax system. When home values went up, tax bills soared. Now that home values have fallen, so should tax bills. But they haven’t.” said Rogers.  “This system of taxing property based on human calculation of value is rife with error, politics, and inaccuracies. Georgians deserve better. Eventually we must move completely away from this system so heavily weighted against the taxpayer.  In the meantime, we are obligated to take every step possible to bring some sense of fairness and transparency to property taxation.”

The subjectivity of assessments dominated citizens concerns.  Residents from Gwinnett, Gilmer and Cherokee Counties testified of how their property tax assessments jumped 200-400% in just a year or two during times when markets of have declined.  In addition, many stated the inconsistencies of tax assessors that didn’t even enter their homes or take into account the actual market price of their homes.  They all suggested restructuring the law to acknowledge fair market values, something that Rogers has been actively pursuing. 

Appealing property tax assessments was next on the firing line.  Many noted the lack of transparency and the convoluted nature of the process. Citizens have had their requests for appeal turned down simply because they missed a deadline they didn’t know existed.

“Last session I passed legislation that was a first step in making corrections to the assessment appeal process. This session we will continue to move forward. To begin with, taxpayers should be allowed to file an appeal 365 days a year, not just during a limited window set by government.” said Rogers.

County commissioners were represented by Clint Mueller of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).  ACCG also recognizes flaws and inconsistencies in the property tax laws and is willing to work with legislators to make changes.  He made suggestions specifically in the areas of assessments, appeals, fairness and equity, public notice and property tax collections. 

A handful of Georgia citizens have joined together on their own and formed the Joint Taxpayer/Tax Assessor Study Group.  Participating in the group is a former tax assessor, a property lawyer and a few tax payers, who have brought forward suggested changes to the current laws.  Rogers applauded their collaboration and participation in the democratic process of changing Georgia’s laws.

The next Property Tax Assessment Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the State Capitol. 


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