Board of Equalization
A division of the Clerk of Superior Court, every Board of Equalization in all 159 counties in Georgia are made up of three members who are property owners. They are supported by three alternates. These members have been appointed by the Grand Jury (OCGA 48-5-311) and are expected to be high school graduates who can qualify as Grand Jurors. They must agree to serve a three-year term.
MORE ABOUT THE BOARD
The function of the Board of Equalization Georgia is designed to receive and adjudicate every appeal of assessments related to property value, uniformity, tax-ability, or exemption denials.
Every member of the Board of Equalization Georgia is expected to satisfy 40 hours of certified training. This is completed before serving as members. Board of Equalization Georgia members are required to complete eight hours of continuing education classes every year.
The Board of Equalization Georgia is charged with the task of hearing appeals on property tax matters. These matters include:
- Established Value – This includes what the property would sell for on the market in transactions between informed buyers and sellers
- Value Uniformity – This involves assessment values fairly equalized between individual taxpayers.
- Tax-ability – All real and personal property is subject to taxation and will be taxed unless otherwise provided for by law.
- Homestead Exemption Denials – The homestead that is owned by a resident of the state of Georgia and is occupied by the owner as their primary residence receives an exemption. A portion of the assessment is exempted from ad valorem taxation for county, state and school purposes.
- Special Assessment Denials – In Georgia the law provides for special assessments. This includes certain kinds of property such as; land used for agricultural or conservation use, land rehabilitated and landmark/ historic properties. It also includes contaminated property known more commonly as “Brownfields”, as well as environmentally sensitive properties including but not limited to storm-water and wetlands.
Property owners file appeals to the Board of Tax Assessors within the required 45 days of the postmark on their assessment notice. “Appellant” is the title of the person appealing. This appeal is first considered by the Board of Tax Assessors. If the Board’s decision includes a “no change,” the appeal is then forwarded to the Board of Equalization Georgia. If the Board of Tax Assessors does change the value the appellant has 30 days to appeal to the Board of Equalization Georgia.
Appellants receive a notice for the date and time of the scheduled hearing. To reschedule any hearing the appellant will need to notify the Board of Equalization Georgia a minimum of 24 hours in advance. To withdraw from a hearing, they are required to write to the office at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing date.
Appellants appear before the Board of Equalization Georgia either alone or with a representative or represented by an authorized representative. The taxpayer is required to specify in writing to the Board of Equalization, the name of any agent or representative prior to the scheduled appearance before the Board.
Evidence to present to the Board of Equalization Georgia could include pictures of the interior, pictures of the exterior and the surrounding area. A map of the area that shows the location of the subject property and the locations of other similar properties in the area that sold within one or two years of the effective date of appraisal, which is January 1 of each year. Also, similar properties with much lower assessed values can be used as evidence of an inequitable assessment/tax burden.
The Appellant, or the County Board of Tax Assessors, may appeal decisions of the Board of Equalization to the Superior Court. The notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date on which the original board decision was mailed.
Appealing the Board of Equalization
Qualifications to serve on the Board of Equalization
(b) Qualifications of board of equalization members.
(1) Each person who is, in the judgment of the appointing grand jury, qualified and competent to serve as a grand juror, who is the owner of real property located in the county where such person is appointed to serve, or, in the case of a regional board of equalization, is the owner of real property located in any county in the region where such person is appointed to serve, and who is at least a high school graduate shall be qualified, competent, and compellable to serve as a member or alternate member of the county board of equalization. No member of the governing authority of a county, municipality, or consolidated government; member of a county or independent board of education; member of the county board of tax assessors; employee of the county board of tax assessors; or county tax appraiser shall be competent to serve as a member or alternate member of the county board of equalization.
(2) (A) Each person seeking to be appointed as a member or alternate member of a county board of equalization shall, not later than immediately prior to the time of his or her appointment under subsection (c) of this Code section, file with the clerk of the superior court a uniform application form which shall be a public record. The Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia created under Code Section 15-6-50.2 shall design the form which indicates the applicant’s education, employment background, experience, and qualifications for such appointment.
(B) (i) Within the first year after a member’s initial appointment to the board of equalization, each member shall satisfactorily complete not less than 40 hours of instruction in appraisal and equalization processes and procedures, as prepared and required by the commissioner pursuant to Code Section 48-5-13.
(ii) On or after January 1, 2016, following the completion of each term of office, a member shall, within the first year of appointment to the subsequent term of office, complete satisfactorily not less than 20 hours of instruction in appraisal and equalization processes and procedures, as prepared and required by the commissioner for newly appointed members.
Impartiality of Board
By law, members of the Board of Tax Equalization must impartially decide each appeal presented to the Board. You may request excusal of any board member who you believe cannot be fair and unbiased. The request must be made in writing to the Appeal Administrator at least five days prior to the scheduled date for the party’s appeal. Names of the Board who will hear and decide your appeal will be listed on the notice of hearing sent to you.
Appointment of Board
Members of the Board are appointed by the grand jury of the county serving the fall term of superior court. To be appointed by the grand jury, persons must be real property owners, 18 years of age or older, one of the most intelligent, upright and experienced citizens of the county and not have been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.
Prior to hearing and deciding an appeal, each member must satisfactory complete 40 hours of mandatory training related to tax assessment and valuation (which training must be completed within the first year of his or her appointment) and, each thereafter, must complete eight hours of annual update training. Members serve a three-year term and may be reappointed by the grand jury for more than one term of office.
You have the right to representation by an attorney, appraiser, agent, or any other person at your appeal hearing. If someone is going to represent you, you MUST SUBMIT IN WRITING the name of the person to the Appeal administrator at least five days prior to the hearing.
Preparation for Hearing
Please note and remember the date and time of your hearing. You should be present and ready to present all evidence at the scheduled time. If you have a legitimate reason, you may submit a request to the Appeal Administrator at least five days prior to your hearing date and the Appeal Administrator may grant you a one-time change in the hearing date. If you have an emergency and cannot be on time for your hearing, you should Immediately notify the Appeal Administrator at (912) 754-2118.
Preparation of Your Case
The Board’s only purpose is to determine your property value, the uniformity of its value, its taxability and denial of homestead exemption and special assessments.
Only information pertinent to the matter being appealed should be presented. It is suggested that, prior to the hearing, you discuss the physical characteristics of your property with the person in the tax assessor’s office who is administratively responsible for handling your appeal (the person’s name and telephone number should be on the change of assessment notice that you received).
The tax assessor has the burden of proving ‘by a preponderance of evidence’ the value it has established for your property. So, it will be to your advantage to present evidence in support of your own opinion of the value.
The Board lets you decide when you want to present your evidence, either before or after the tax assessor’s presentation. You and the tax assessor’s representative will be afforded an opportunity to present information without interruption. Both parties may cross-examine (ask questions of each other) and otherwise rebut information provided by the other party.
Basis for an Appeal
Value – How much would the property usually sell for in a transaction between a knowledgeable buyer and a willing seller? (O.C.G.A. §48-5-2)
Uniformity of value – Is the property value assessment fairly equalized between individual taxpayers as measured through statistical testing and not by comparing individual values? (O.C.G.A. §48-5-299)
Taxability – Is the property exempt from taxation or subject to taxation as provided for in Georgia law? (O.C.G.A. §48-5-3, -41, -41.1, -42, -43, –48.1 and -48.2)
Denial of homestead exemptions – Does the property qualify for homestead exemption? Georgia law provides for statewide exemptions
O.C.G.A. §48-5-44 – 54. There may also be local exemptions available. For more Information, contact the county tax commissioner.
Denial of special assessments – Has a special assessment for the property been denied? Georgia law provides for special assessments of certain types of property such as, property used for agricultural purposes (for example, conservation use, agricultural preferential), rehabilitated and landmark historic properties, contaminated property (also known as Brownfield’s), certain environmentally sensitive property and storm water/wetlands. For more information on these items, contact the county appraisal staff or tax commissioner.
The Board’s chairperson conducts and controls the hearing, decides motions, responds to requests of parties, and administers oaths. He or she is responsible for decorum during hearings and, if necessary, will reprimand, exclude, or dismiss any person from a hearing due to improper conduct.
The Board understands that the basis of your appeal is that you do not agree with the tax assessor’s valuation of your property and that you and the tax assessor have a difference of opinion. However, the difference of opinion should not create hostilities between you and the assessor’s staff.
Please stay on track, present information relevant to your position and do not dwell on the difference between your and the other party’s evidence.
Present positive information to support your opinion. Your chances of prevailing will be much better if you do.
The Board does not investigate or conduct research relative to appeals but simply listens to and makes decisions based on the information provided by all parties. The Board will not present information on your behalf and will not infer anything that is not presented as evidence. The Board is not a watchdog. It is a neutral and independent entity charged by law to base its decisions on the best information presented during the appeal hearing.
Decision of Board After all information is presented, both sides are permitted to make closing statements. The Board then will deliberate. No additional information may be presented once the Board begins deliberating. The Board then decides based on the fact presented.
The Board will provide its decision to you after deliberating and a copy of the decision will be provided. The decision will address each question presented during the appeal, the reason(s) for such decision (as to issues of taxability, uniformity of assessment, value, or denial of homestead exemption that you raised during the appeal hearing).
Once the Board’s decision is rendered, it no longer has a statutory role in the valuation process and, therefore, the Board will not discuss its decision or any reason for such decision with you or anyone else.
All exhibits. data and information will be returned to the party that provided them once the hearing is concluded and the Board’s decision is rendered. Upon request, the Appeal Administrator will discard the data for either party.
Right to Appeal
You have the right to appeal the decision of the Board to the Superior Court of Effingham County by filing a notice of appeal with the Board of Tax Assessors within 30 days from the date when the Board of Tax Equalization provided its decision to you.