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Tax Assessor's Office Frequently Asked Questions
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. 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 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.
C: Hearing Officer
- 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 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.
- The decision of the hearing officer may be appealed into Superior Court by either party.
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: 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?