Many property owners have questions about their property appraisal. Some typical concerns are addressed in the following questions and answers.
Q: I just bought a house. How and when do I file for my Exemptions?
A: Application for homestead exemption may be filed any time during the year. Application for homestead exemption must be filed by MARCH 1st of the year in which the exemption is sought provided the applicant meets ownership and residency eligibility requirements. Applications received after MARCH 1st will be processed the following taxable year. Rental property does not qualify for any exemption.
1. EVERYONE owning their home and living there on January 1 can qualify for a $5,000 exemption from County and School Tax.
2. ALL homeowners who are 65 years of age by January 1 can receive a $40,000 School Tax Exemption.
3. ALL City of Cartersville homeowners who are 65 years of age can receive a $28,000 City Tax exemption.
4. A Disabled Veterans Exemption in an amount up to $50,000 is available, however, is restricted to certain types of very serious disabilities. You should contact the Tax Office for details.
5. An un-remarried surviving spouse, whose spouse was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and was killed or died as a result of any war or armed conflict can apply for an exemption in an amount up to $50,000. You should contact the Tax Office for details.
Q: The website does not show my name and address on the house I recently purchased. Why?
A: Ownership/Appraisal Data is based on the Tax Digest Date of January 1. Any purchases of property after January 1 will not display until the next Tax Digest is posted in August.
Q: What is a Tax Return?
A: Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property (both real estate and personal property) owned on January 1 of the tax year. In Bartow County the time for filing returns is January 1 through April1. These returns are filed with the Assessors office and forms are available in that office, or you can go to our online forms. The tax return is a listing of the property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s declaration of the value of the property. Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally determined for the preceding year and the taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur. A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Assessors.
Q: Why must my property be appraised?
A: State law governs everything the Assessors do. Therefore, if the Board of Assessors does not comply with state law (48-5-343) the county governing authority will be assessed costly penalties (48-5-345,346) if assessments do not meet state regulations or fair market value.
Q: What is Fair Market Value?
A: Georgia law defines fair market value as the amount a knowledgeable and serious buyer would pay, and a willing seller would accept for a property to complete a bonafide sale. Fair Market Value is the appraised value of your property by the Bartow County Board of Assessors.
Q: How is Fair Market Value determined?
A: The Board of Assessors is required by law to consider those factors a buyer and seller price. These include the replacement costs, recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood, the properties income producing capability, the properties zoning and use, and any legal restrictions, which would affect the potential use of the property.
Q: What is Assessed Value?
A: By Georgia law, a property’s assessed value is set at 40% of fair market value, as determined by the Board of Assessors. Example: $100,000: Market Value $40,000: Assessed Value The amount of tax you pay is based on the assessed value of your property.
Q: What do I have to do if I agree with the value?
A: Nothing. By not responding to the notice, according to Georgia law you have agreed that all the information on the notice is correct.
Q: What if I don’t agree with the value placed on my property? What can I do?
A: Property owners may file a Property Owner's Return each year with the Tax Assessors Office between Jan. 1 and April 1 and state the value he/she believes to be the Fair Market Value as of Jan. 1 of that year. If the assessors disagree with the owner’s returned value, a Change of Assessment Notice will be mailed. If the owner does not agree with the proposed value, a written appeal may be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors within 45 days from the date of the notice. (The amount of tax is not a valid reason for appeal.)
Q: What if I don't agree with the value the board of equalization or hearing officer placed on my property?
A: Once the decision has been made by the county board of equalization or hearing officer, the taxpayer may appeal their decision to the superior court of Bartow County by filing with the board of assessors a written notice of appeal. The notice of appeal has to be filed within 30 days from which the decision of the board of equalization or hearing officer was mailed. A $207 filing fee for the clerk of superior court must be collected at the same time as the notice of appeal or the appeal will not be accepted.
Q: What if I fail to appeal in 45 days?
A: If you do not appeal your valuation within the appeal period, you forfeit your right to appeal for that year. After 45 day and there has been no appeal filed you have accepted the value set by the Board of Assessors, for that tax year. If necessary you can file a real property return during the following year, between January 1 and April 1.
Q: It is beyond the 45 day appeal period for filing an appeal. Can I get an extension? A: Georgia Law provides 45 days for a property owner to file a written appeal. Realizing that a county must complete work on the annual digest by July 1, and submit it to the Department of Revenue by August 1, the law does not provide for extensions to this deadline.
Q: What is Arbitration?
A: If Arbitration is desired it must be specified in the initial appeal letter. The property owner and the board of assessors must agree upon an arbitrator. The taxpayer must pay the clerk of superior court filing fee of $207 at the same time as filing the notice of appeal. Only registered real estate appraisers as classified by the GA Real Estate Appraisers Board can serve as an arbitrator.
Q: Does an increase in my property value mean an increase in my tax?
A: That depends on how much your valuation increases and how much the millage rate is adjusted for the current tax year. The amount of you tax is determined by the combined budgets of each of the governing authorities. A rate (called the millage rate) is set by the governing authorities. When this rate is applied to your assessed value this will determine your share of tax revenue that is needed for the operation of the governing authorities.
Q: How is the millage rate (tax rate) determined?
A: After the Assessors’ staff has completed their review of current appraisals; we then turn the data over to the Tax Commissioners office to add other taxable property such as motor vehicles to the tax digest. The Tax Commissioner and Assessors office then balance all assessments and exemptions. After a thorough review of the digest valuations and exemptions has been completed, we then hand the tax digest totals over to the “Governing Authorities”. The “Governing Authorities” in turn determine the tax rate (millage rate) for each of their respective entities.
Example: Total Budget Net Tax digest Mill Rate $4,250,000 / $536,874,984 = $7.92
In this example, $7.92 is the amount that will be levied on every $1,000 of assessed value.
Q: How are my taxes figured?
A: Appraised Value (determined by Assessors)
X 40% (assessment rate in GA)
= Assessed Value
- Applicable local or State Exemptions
= Net assessment
X Millage Rate (tax rate)
= Tax amount