Submitted by Douglas County
The Douglas County Board of Assessors is mailing 53,000 notices to property owners in Douglas County on Friday, June 13th, alerting them to the 2014 fair market appraisal of their real property (house, land, commercial buildings, etc.).
Approximately 10,000 additional notices are being mailed to owners of personal property (business inventory, business equipment, furnishings, boats, airplanes, etc.).
The notice reveals to the owner the 2014 value of their property that will be used for taxation purposes by the County and the cities within the County. The notices go to all property owners in Douglas County, including those residing in the cities of Austell, Douglasville and Villa Rica.
Of the real property notices for 2014, 17% had no change in value; 28% had a decrease in value; and 55% had an increase in value. In 2013, 24% had no change in value; 63% had a decrease in value; and 13% had an increase in value. The change between 2013 and 2014 reflects the growing recovery of the economy and the housing market.
The notices will include the fair market value (100% of the property value), and the assessed value (40% of the property value). Taxes will be based on the assessed value (40%) of the property less than any exemptions for which the property owner has qualified (homestead, conservation, Freeport, etc.).
Fair market value is an educated estimate of the market value of a property based on what a knowledgeable buyer would pay to a knowledgeable seller in an open market situation.
Part of this determination is a market analysis based on comparable properties that have recently sold, but other factors are included. The values were set by the staff of the Douglas County Appraisal Department, which operates under the rules and regulations of the Georgia Department of Revenue which mandates how properties are to be appraised.
Property tax assessment procedures are uniform across the State of Georgia and cannot be locally modified. The Douglas County Board of Assessors reviews and approves the assessments developed by staff.
State of Georgia law also provides for a 45-day period during which a property owner can appeal the new 2014 value if desired. The deadline for appeal submission is 5 p.m., Monday, July 28th, and all appeals must be either in the Appraisal Department office at that time, or have a USPS postmark with a time stamp to be considered.
This is a hard deadline set by the State that cannot be modified by local officials. Submittals by fax or e-mail cannot be accepted.
To appeal a value, a property owner can use forms available in the Appraisal Department (first floor, Douglas County Courthouse); on the Appraisal page of the County web site at www.CelebrateDouglasCounty.com; or by simply writing a letter stating that the property owner feels that the stated valuation is too high or too low.
The appeal form has a second page that presents questions to the property owner that would be helpful in an appeal, and property owners are encouraged to provide answers and supporting documentation. The property owner can provide independent assessments, comparative property sales reports, and other information to support the appeal request if desired.
Appeal options are identified on the appeal form. Some appeal options involve costs, but a standard appeal does not have a cost. It normally takes about 3 - 6 months for an appeal to be heard and a decision rendered.
The assessment notice also includes an estimate of property taxes based on the 2014 property value. However, this estimate is based on the millage rates for 2013 which may or may not be the same millage rates adopted for 2014.
The governing bodies of Douglas County and the cities of Villa Rica, Douglasville, and Austell have until July 31st to adopt their millage rates for 2014. Property owners should not assume that a lower property value will result in lower property taxes because millage rates may rise. Millage rates will be considered and adopted in advertised public meetings.
Tax bills will be issued by the Douglas County Tax Commissioner in September and the tax payment deadline is normally about mid-November.
The tax bills will use the 2014 appraised value of the property and whatever tax millage rate that the appropriate government has set for 2014. If a property owner appeals the valuation, he/she has to pay 85 percent of the amount of the issued tax bill, and any adjustments due to the appeal will be refunded to the property owner when settled.The Douglas County Appraisal Department may be contacted at 770-920-7228 with questions.