Tax Assessor's Office Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How often is the Board of Assessor's required to revalue or physically visit each property?
A. The simplest answer to this often asked question is “as needed in order to maintain Georgia legal standards for fair and equitable values.” The Georgia Department of Revenue recommends that each property should be physically visited once every 3 to 5 years. However, this is a general guideline that originated when data discovery was more manual in nature. Furthermore, there is not any recommendation on how often values are to be changed, except that, overall, values must be within 10% of current market values. Georgia Laws govern that the Board of Assessors must determine an assessed value each year to be used for ad valorem tax purposes. Georgia law also governs that county digests (the collection of all taxable values in the county) be audited annually and pass a series of measures. Georgia's statistical auditing practices are conducted by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, and test the county's compliance on an annual basis.
The annual audits test that the Board of Assessors is, overall, maintaining values that are consistent with the market and that there is no bias of demonstrably higher or lower values for any set of properties or owners. Georgia Rules and Regulations 560-11-2.56 states: “County boards of tax assessors are required by the State Constitution and state law to continuously maintain assessments of property that are reasonably uniform and that are based on fair market value as defined in § 48-5-2 (except as otherwise stated in § 48-5-6 and § 48-5-7(c.3)). The Department is required by law to periodically review the county digests to determine if the digests are in compliance with such laws (cited 2018).” The regulations go on to state, “This Regulation imposes no additional requirements on the county boards of tax assessors. It merely sets forth the statistical and other methods that are used by the Department in making its determination. The Department does not determine when to revalue property. Each county board of tax assessors determines for itself when it believes a revaluation of property is necessary for legal compliance. Failure to revalue property shall not in and of itself be a basis for assessment of any penalty (cited 2018).”
With over 283,000 properties in Gwinnett, and a lean staff size, we do our best to visit as many properties as possible each year, but we must rely on additional tools to maintain fair and equitable property values for all Gwinnett owners. The Board of Assessors staff has developed practices to identify properties and areas most in need of physical on-site inspections. We utilize best practices and tools to capture relevant changes to property. For example, we utilize detailed aerial photography of each property and change detection to identify changes to property. Our offices reviews between 35,000 to 45,000 property transfers each year, as well as county and city permit data, and fire incident reports. Additionally, we review county and city redevelopment plans, and utilize input from individual property owners. Gwinnett property owners can feel assured that these collective practices continue to provide accurate property values. Gwinnett has been found to be in compliance with the Department of Revenue's auditing standards for over 15 years.
Q: Does filing a Property Tax Return appeal my valuation?
A: A Property Tax Return is not considered to be a Property Appeal because appeals are filed as a response to the Annual Notice of Assessment. Information provided by filing a Property Return prior to the Annual Notice of Assessment will be considered. If you filed a Property Return and then receive an Annual Notice of Assessment that states a property value you disagree with, you will need to file an appeal despite filing a return. Please visit our website to file an appeal if you do not agree with the information on your Annual Notice of Assessment.
Q: Who determines the value of my property?
A: The Gwinnett County Board of Tax Assessors’ appraisal staff determines your property value based on recent sales (including bank sales) and market conditions. The appraisers use three different approaches to value property:
- The Sales Comparison Approach is based on the sales prices of comparable properties.
- The Cost Approach is based on the estimated costs of replacement or reproduction of structures, less accumulated depreciation, plus the value of the land.
- The Income Approach is based on the capitalization of income generated by the property.
Q: How do you know if my property is at Fair Market Value?
A: Value studies are conducted as prescribed by the Georgia Department of Revenue. All residential and commercial real property subject to property taxes is classified and studied either in neighborhood (NBHD) groups or in property use and type classifications. Residential and agricultural properties are grouped and studied in neighborhoods or by using land and acreage sale studies. Commercial and industrial properties are grouped by property use and type classifications and valued by capitalized income or depreciated cost plus land. A recent non-distressed sale is generally accepted as the best indicator of fair market value. Each grouping of properties has a sample of properties that sold during the preceding calendar year. The appraisal staff compares the sale price of the properties to the County's appraised values. If the County has significantly higher or lower values on a group of properties, this is an indication that the group needs to be revalued. Values can be adjusted upward or downward. When establishing new values, all approaches to value are considered (cost, market, and income) and applied as relevant. Necessary adjustments will be made to the group of the properties in the study to bring the whole group in line with the market. In that process some properties will be increased, some will be decreased, and some may not change as the uniformity of the whole neighborhood or property use and type classification is pertinent. Any property that had a sale in the preceding year (January 1 through December 31) is adjusted to that sale price for the current tax year.
Q. When will I receive my Annual Notice of Assessment?
A. Most Residential and Commercial Annual Notice of Assessments are mailed in April each year. Personal Property Notice of Assessments (tangible business inventory, watercraft, and aircraft) are mailed in May.
Q. Why did I receive an Annual Notice of Assessment? Is this a bill?
A. An Annual Notice of Assessment is not a tax bill. The Annual Notice of Assessment informs you of the value assessed on your property as of January 1 of the current year. Your property tax bill issued in August by the Tax Commissioner’s Office will be based on this property value unless subsequently adjusted following a property appeal.
- The Notice of Assessment includes an estimate of taxes based on the current assessed value of your property, using the previous year’s millage rates, because the current year millage rate has not been determined by the Board of Commissioners yet.
- The tax estimate does not include the fees you will see on your tax bill in August. Some of the fees included on your tax bill that are not included in the estimate, include solid waste (garbage pickup), street lights, storm water, and speed humps. Property tax bills are usually issued by the Tax Commissioner’s Office in August. The bill is based on the current assessed value and the millage rates adopted by the Board of Commissioners and other authorities in June or July. Additional millage rates may apply for cities, Board of Education, and service districts.
Q. If I purchased a property the previous year, will my current year Annual Notice of Assessment value reflect my purchase price?
A. Yes, it should as your purchase price establishes the maximum value for the following year, provided that the parties are unrelated and no significant changes have been made to the property. In many cases, the sales price is not disclosed to the County, making it impossible for our office to determine the sale price of a newly purchased property. If this situation applies to you, please provide a copy of your closing statement to the Tax Assessor’s Office so we can update your property information.
Q. Where can I get information regarding the property sales in my neighborhood which helped to determine my property value?
A. Neighborhood property information and sales are available online on our Property Information Search webpage. Be sure to enter the parcel number, property owner name, or property address.
Q: How do I appeal my new Residential or Commercial valuation?
A: For your convenience and to ensure timely filing, we recommend you use the online appeal filing tools that are available on this website. All appeals must be received electronically or postmarked within 45 days of the Annual Notice of Assessment date. We can accept any letter of disagreement that identifies the property (by parcel number or address) and is received or postmarked within a 45-day period as a formal appeal. Any information concerning the reasons for the appeal or information you can share about the property will greatly assist in the process. Grounds for appealing your valuation are:
- Value: Would the property sell for the appraised amount?
- Taxability: Is the property taxable?
- Uniformity: Is the appraisal uniform with other similar property?
Q. How do I appeal my property tax bill that the Tax Commissioner’s Office issues in August?
A. A common misconception is that a property owner can appeal their property tax bill. The property tax bill itself cannot be appealed. An appeal of the value of the property is available through the Tax Assessor’s Office during the appeal period, which begins from the date on your Annual Notice of Assessment and continues for 45 days. Once you receive your tax bill in August from the Tax Commissioner’s Office, appeal rights for most property is no longer available, as it is outside the 45-day appeal period.
Q. What if my property is still under appeal when the tax bills are sent out by the Tax Commissioner’s Office in August?
A. If a property is still under appeal with no value settlement in place yet, the Tax Commissioner will issue a partial tax bill. This is a temporary bill and does not reflect that the property value was changed. Do not withdraw your appeal based solely on this temporary, partial tax bill. The partial, temporary bill sent to you by the Tax Commissioner’s Office was calculated using the lesser of either 100 percent of the prior year value, or 85 percent of the most recent value. Your payment for this partial, temporary bill is due to the Tax Commissioner’s Office by the due date to avoid penalties and interest. The Tax Commissioner’s Office will calculate a final bill once your appeal is complete.
Q: What happens once I appeal my valuation?
A: As soon as your appeal is received by our office, the following will happen:
- The appraisal staff will review your appeal.
- If the appraisal staff elects to make a change in your valuation, you will receive another written Change of Assessment Notice called a 30-day notice (form PT-306C). If you are dissatisfied with the revised appraisal, you have 30 days to reject the proposed value and continue the appeal process for the most recent value that you had stated. By responding that you do not accept the changes, your information will be forwarded to the Clerk of Courts to schedule your hearing. The Clerk of Courts will notify you by mail of your scheduled hearing date. You must be present and prepared for the hearing.
- If the appraisal staff does not make any adjustment in your appraisal, you will be notified that your appeal will be forwarded to the next level based on your selected hearing type.
- The Clerk of Courts will notify you by mail when you are scheduled for your hearing.
- When the date and time of the hearing arrives, you will have an opportunity to present your case. The County appraiser will also attend the hearing and will present supporting documentation concerning the County’s appraisal of your property. The County’s appraisal is based on market and cost information occurring between January 1 and December 31 of the prior calendar year. In some cases where there have not been enough sales in the single preceding year, sales that occurred in the preceding two years may be presented. Where appropriate, a time adjustment will be calculated to show how past sales reflect the actual valuation date of January 1 of the current tax year. At the end of a hearing, both you and the county appraiser may stay for the deliberations among the Board of Equalization members, but you and the County appraiser must refrain from presenting any further evidence or discussion. The Board of Equalization then deliberates privately and makes a decision. Both you and the Board of Assessors will be notified in writing of the official ruling.
B. If you are not satisfied with the ruling of the Board of Equalization, Hearing Officer, or Arbitrator, you can appeal to the Superior Court. However, prior to the Superior Court hearing, the Tax Assessor’s Office must provide a Settlement Conference meeting between you and the Tax Assessor’s Office in an attempt to settle the matter without a formal hearing. There is no cost to begin this process. However, if you and the Tax Assessor’s Office are unable to reach an agreement at the end of this meeting, you will need to further certify your appeal to the Clerk of Courts with a filing fee. Following are the steps to appeal to the Superior Court:
- After the Board of Equalization has reached a decision, you may complete the Notification of Appeal Continuance to the Superior Court form and request a Settlement Conference. You have 30 days from the date of your hearing decision to begin this process.
- You may submit the form in person to the Tax Assessor’s Office on the first floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville, or you may email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Within 45 days of receiving your request to appeal to the Superior Court, the Tax Assessor’s Office will mail you an appointment letter stating the date and time of the Settlement Conference, which will be held in the Tax Assessor’s Office. The hearing date can occur no later than 30 days from the date the Tax Assessor’s Office mails you an appointment letter.
- Upon receiving the appointment letter, you may exercise a one-time option to reschedule the Settlement Conference. In order to reschedule, please email email@example.com or call 770.822.7262. The rescheduled conference must occur no later than 30 days from the date on which the appointment letter was issued from the Tax Assessor’s Office.
- If all parties reach an agreement in the Settlement Conference, all parties will make a written agreement to the value and the agreed upon value will become the final value used for assessment purposes.
C. If all parties are unable to reach an agreement, you will have 20 days in which to further certify your appeal to the Appeal Coordinator with the Clerk of Courts. The Appeal Coordinator is located on the second floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in the same location where the Board of Equalization hearing occurred. You will need to make payment of the filing fee to the Clerk of Courts at that time. Following this certification to the Clerk of Courts, the Appeal Coordinator will deliver your request for a Superior Court Hearing as well as the filing fees on your behalf and you will receive further communication about the hearing schedule by US Postal Service.
In the event that you choose to not attend the Settlement Conference, the meeting will still occur as scheduled. Any evidence provided up to that point in the appeal will be reviewed and a decision will be made. You will be notified by USPS mail of the decision. You will still be able to certify a continuation of appeal to Superior Court within 10 days from the date of the Settlement Conference. However, by not attending the Settlement Conference, you may limit your ability to seek legal and filing fees at the end of the Superior Court hearing.
Q: What is the difference between the Board of Equalization, Arbitration & Hearing Officer?
A: The Board of Equalization
- The Board of Tax Assessors will review your appeal. Adjustments may be made or the appeal may be forwarded to the Board of Equalization. The taxpayer will be notified by U.S. mail of any adjustment or forwarding of the appeal.
- The Board of Equalization consists of panels of three-persons appointed by the Grand Jury. Currently, the Board of Equalization consists of 5 of these 3 member panels.
- The Clerk of Superior Court has oversight authority of the Board of Equalization.
- The Board of Equalization is charged with listening to the valuation evidence presented by both parties (the property owner and the Tax Assessors’ Office) at a scheduled hearing.
- After the hearing, the panel will render a decision, which may be appealed by either party.
- There is no additional cost to the taxpayer for a Board of Equalization hearing.
- An appeal of value may be filed to arbitration by filing your appeal specifying arbitration with the Board of Assessors within 45 days of the date of the notice.
- The taxpayer must submit a $25 check for the filing fees of the Superior Court and certified appraisal of the subject property within 45 days of the filing of the notice of appeal. The appraisal must be signed by a licensed appraiser and reflect an appraisal date close to January 1 of the tax year.
- The Board of Assessors may accept the value indicated in the appraisal or reject it.
- If the taxpayer's appraisal is rejected, the Board of Assessors will certify the appeal to the Clerk of Superior Court for arbitration. The arbitration will be authorized by the judge, and an arbitrator will be appointed. If all parties agree to the appointed arbitrator, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days.
- Both the taxpayer's appraisal and the assessor's appraisal will be submitted to the appointed arbitrator. The arbitrator may schedule a hearing.
- The arbitrator will issue a decision at the conclusion of the hearing. This decision can be appealed to Superior Court by either party in the same manner as Board of Equalization decisions.
- The party whose value is farthest from the fair market valued determined by the arbitrator is responsible for the fees and costs of the arbitrator.
- Arbitrator costs may be substantial. Please contact the Clerk of Superior Court for estimates on arbitrator costs.
- Only appeals made on the basis of value or uniformity can be appealed to a hearing office.
- Only non-homestead real property where the value is equal to or greater than $500,000, or for one or more account numbers of a wireless company property [as defined in subparagraph 48-5-311(e.1)(1)(B) ] totaling $500,000 or more qualifies for an appeal to a hearing officer.
- The Clerk of Superior Court will appoint a hearing officer from an approved list of appraisers. Hearing Officers are either state-certified general real property appraisers or state-certified residential real property appraisers as classified by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board, and who have received the necessary training by the Georgia Real Estate Appraises Board. In the case of wireless property matters, Hearing Officers must be designated appraisers of such property with proper qualifications and experience to value such property.
- The decision of the hearing officer may be appealed into Superior Court by either party.
The County will pay for the services of the hearing officer, although the taxpayer is responsible for any additional costs they choose to encounter, such as legal representation and appraisal fees.
Q: What does NBHD mean?
A:NBHD is an acronym for the word “neighborhood”. Within the context of the mass appraisal process, NBHD is defined as a group of similar houses or properties that behave or act similarly in the real estate market. Often manmade or natural boundaries separate NBHDs, but the boundaries do not preclude appraisal staff from including properties in NBHDs that are outside the confines of the manmade or natural boundary. Neighborhoods used for appraisal are not limited to being in the same subdivision as long as the grouping of properties into a neighborhood remains homogeneous and any factors that affect properties differently can be measured and accounted for during valuation.
Q: Why are the appraisal staff members conducting field visits in my neighborhood?
A: The Gwinnett County Assessors’ Office conducts on-site, exterior reviews of residential properties as part of an on-going process. This is necessary in order to maintain accurate property assessments. These property reviews may be prompted by a variety of occurrences, such as but not limited to: requests for a review by one or more property owners, notification of activity that may result in a value change (i.e. permitted and non-permitted work), notification that a property’s use may have changed from when it was previously assessed (i.e. zoning changes, uses inconsistent with filed covenants, etc.), appeals of county assessments, or requests for data correction. The representative conducting the on-premises review will display photo ID identifying them as a Gwinnett County representative. These visits include verifying existing or new construction data and can include obtaining exterior measurements and taking photos of the property. During an on-site review of residential property that includes a dwelling (i.e. not vacant land), the County representative will knock on the door to announce their presence and introduce themselves before beginning the review of the property. If nobody answers the door, we will conduct our property review and information will be left to advise you of our visit. While our staff does inspect the interior of dwellings during their initial construction, residential on-site reviews in later years do not typically involve an interior inspection. An owner may request an interior inspection to be scheduled if the owner desires. The safety of all individuals is of great importance. If an interior inspection or conversation with our appraisal staff was scheduled, an adult responsible for the property, such as the owner or tenant, must be present.
Q: What law allows the Board of Assessors to inspect my property?
§ 48-5-264.1. Right of chief appraiser and others to inspect property; supplying identification to occupant of property; statement to be included in tax bill
(a) The chief appraiser, other members of the county property appraisal staff, authorized agents of the county board of tax assessors, and members of the county board of tax assessors who are conducting official business of the chief appraiser, the county appraisal staff, or the county board of tax assessors may go upon property outside of buildings, posted or otherwise, in order to carry out the duty of making appraisals of the fair market value of taxable property in the county, other than property returned directly to the commissioner; provided, however, such person representing such chief appraiser, appraisal staff, or county board of tax assessors shall carry identification which is sufficiently prominent to permit the occupant to readily ascertain that such person is such representative. Such representative shall not enter upon the property unless reasonable notice has been provided to the owner and to the occupant of the property regarding the purpose for which such person is entering upon such property.
Q: What is Business Personal Property?
A: Business Personal Property assets include furniture, fixtures, equipment, machinery and inventory used in the normal course of your business. Leased and rented equipment must also be reported but separately from owned assets.
Q: I just opened a business. What must I file with the tax office?
A: All businesses in Gwinnett County should report Business Personal Property assets regardless of value.
Q: How do I report Business Property assets?
A: Report Business Personal Property assets on state of Georgia form PT-50P. The deadline for filing a Personal Property Return is on or before April 1.
Q: What is the deadline for filing the Business Personal Property Return Form?
A: Assets owned as of January 1 of each year must be returned on or before April 1 of each year.
Q: Does everyone have to pay tax on Business Personal Property?
A: No, there are exceptions. The Georgia Personal Property law states: All tangible personal property of a taxpayer, except motor vehicles, trailers, and mobile homes, shall be exempt from all ad valorem taxation if the actual fair market value of the “total amount” of taxable tangible personal property owned by the taxpayer within the county, as determined by the board of tax assessors, does not exceed $7,500.00.
Q: What exemptions are available to businesses?
A: If your business has inventory and you are a Georgia manufacturer or distributor that ships products out of Georgia, you may qualify for a Freeport Inventory Exemption. If you believe this exemption may apply to you, please review the information provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue as guidance.
Q: What happens if I don't file a Business Personal Return or if I file it late?
A: Georgia law states a 10-percent non-filing penalty should be added to all taxable unreported or late-reported assets.
Q: Does the Personal Property Return have to be postmarked by the U. S. Post Office?
A: You may mail the return through your preferred carrier. HOWEVER, we cannot accept a metered return as proof of timely filing. Only the USPS cancellation stamp can be considered. Please see the question above “Can I file the Personal Property Return or Personal Property Appeal by fax or email?”
Q: How do I appeal my new Personal Property valuation?
A: All appeals must be received or postmarked within 45 days of the notice date. We can accept any letter of disagreement that identifies the property (by parcel number or address) and is received or postmarked within a 45-day period as a formal appeal. Any information concerning the reasons for the appeal or information you can share about the property will greatly assist in the process. Grounds for appealing your valuation are:
- Value: Would the property sell for the appraised amount?
- Taxability: Is the property taxable?
- Uniformity: Is the appraisal uniform with other similar property?