June 2015 – How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester will host Town Hall Meetings on appealing your tax assessment.

  • Monday July 6, 2015 @ 7pm.
    Tucker Reid H. Cofer Library – 5234 Lavista Rd, Tucker, GA 30084
  • Wednesday July, 2015 1 @ 7pm
    Dunwoody City Hall, 41 Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody.

Residents may appeal by July 13, 2015.  It is recommended that you appeal your property assessment every four years whether you agree with the assessment or not.  The appeal will freeze your assessed value for three years.

(Note: By reading this blog, you agree this site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.  Email me if you need help finding somebody to handle your appeal.)

Rising property values have created a windfall in tax collections.  School tax assessments are based on the full appraised value and are not subject to the assessment freeze that limits the value upon which the county and cities can levy taxes.  So, any increase in your assessed value will translate into increased school taxes but may or may not increase your county/city government taxes.  In addition to feeling the full effect of rising property values through school tax collection, DeKalb has the 2nd highest millage rate in the state at 23.98 mills.

Georgia law requires that all personal property be appraised annually at its fair market value.  The DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department has an automated computer system appraising property values.  When you receive the Annual Assessment Notice, if you do not agree with the Current Year Value, you have 45 days to appeal.   Appeal of Assessment Form.

Before Getting Started
Approach this clinically and understand how the county values your property.  Do your homework and collect documentation.  Understand how the process works and what to expect in your 15 minute Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing.  This should be a relatively painless exercise.

Go to DeKalb County Property Search and check the accuracy of information the County has about your home.  The “Digest Year” is the year you received the Assessment Notice, 2015 in this case.  The Appraisal Year is Jan 1st thru Dec 31st for the year your house is being appraised, 2014 in this case.  When talking about Property Value, that includes the value of your home.

Valuation
Property owners may appeal based on Uniformity and/or Valuation.  Valuation uses the purchase price of similar homes sold during the Appraisal Year.  Square footage of the house and lot size as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are the key.  Foreclosed homes are valid comps, but the assessors often neglect to include them in the comps.

Comparables
Your property will be compared to 3 recent “resales” in your area known as Comps.  Use Zillow.com to find the comps in your area that sold during the Appraisal Year.  Selecting “Recently Sold” will display a yellow dot for all the recently sold houses around you.  Be sure to only use homes sold during the Appraisal Year.

Uniformity
Uniformity compares the assessed value of the property to the assessed value of other properties in the same neighborhood.  Calculate the price per square foot for all the houses around you in your neighborhood.  Get the average and compare that to the price per square foot of your house.  Note the lot size could affect the final assessed value.

Documentation
Write a letter explaining why you are appealing your appraisal.  Like a court case, include exhibits with facts, figures and pictures.  Label the exhibits and refer to them in your letter.  The more documentation you have the better.

Appeal of Assessment Form (download here)

  • Digest Year: 2015
  • Appeal Type: Real
  • Specifiy Grounds for Appeal: Check “Value” and “Uniformity” (This gives you the option to argue either one)
  • Path: Check “BOE” (The Boards of Equalization is free)
  • Property Owner Comments: Declare what you believe is the fair market value of your property and a short summary why.
  • Property Class: Residential
  • Sign it
  • Owner Declared Value: Take this question seriously and do some research before answering.  In your BOE hearing you will be asked how you arrived at that number.
  • Attach documentation
  • Mail to:

Property Appraisal Department
120 West Trinity Place, Room 208
Decatur, GA 30030

Process
By virtue of filing an appeal you will receive a 15% reduction of the appraised value automatically.  The Board of Assessments (BOA) will acknowledge receipt of the appeal by mail. Eventually, the Staff Appraiser reviews the property value and any owner concerns mentioned in the letter of appeal. The BOA reviews the appeal, renders a decision, and notifies the property owner in writing within 180 days.

When you receive the decision from the BOA, you are given the option to agree or refer the appeal to the Board Of Equalization (BOE).  If you agree, that value will be valid for one year and the process stops here.

You can disagree and select to take it to the BOE.  When you get the BOE hearing notice with the hearing date, call the BOA and ask for the Residential Sales Comparables Inventory and Account Value Summary they used to appraise your property.  This document will be the basis for the BOA’s case.  At the BOE hearing, ask to hear the BOA case first.  Take notes and address each item they present.  Make 5 copies of all the documentation you have.  When it’s time to present your case, distribute them to the interested parties. This shows them you are prepared, organized, have done your diligence, and have approached this in an objective manner.  Walk them through the differences in the properties and the costs that would be required to get your property up to the value of the comps provided by the BOA.

Once you have finished, if they believe you have made a case they may begin to negotiate with you on a compromised value.  Or they may thank you and inform you that you will receive a letter with their decision within “X” weeks.  If the latter is the case, you can ask to stay for their deliberation so that you can hear their thoughts.  However, you cannot speak during this time.  They will discuss their thoughts and advise the County’s Appraiser of their decision which will then be officially provided to you via mail.

If you take it to the BOE, the property value that comes out of that proceeding will last for 3 years.  It doesn’t hurt to take whatever decision to the BOE, most of the time it will be the same or less than what the BOA came back with and it will be good for 3 years.

If it goes to the BOE, it will be a year before everything is said and done.  The final assessed value will be retroactive to the Digest Year.

Board of Equalization (BOE)
The DeKalb County Board of Equalization is a panel of property owners appointed by a Grand Jury to serve the citizens of DeKalb County. These appointees are required to have at least a high school diploma, own real property in DeKalb County, and must complete at least 40 hours of certified training before they can serve on the Board of Equalization. Once a year, these board members must also complete 8 hours of continuous education training. The Board is charged by the O.C.G.A. 48-5-311 to hear appeals of property tax matters.

9 responses to “June 2015 – How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment

  1. I have never lost a property tax appeal … I’m still appealing my primary property tax from 2014 and already have an appeal in for 2015.

    The rule of thumb in DeKalb Co is never stop appealing… I got my 2012-2013 property tax down from DeKalb (Arbitration). This was after I lost my first two rounds.

    Tip: When your in the B.O.E. hearing have the county go first and counter off there mistakes. They will make lots of mistakes because they don’t know the neighborhood as good as you do and there info is flawed. Do your homework and use the Counties info on sales web site info against them. In 2009 the AJC did a expose on DeKalb’s property tax problems. They have the head guy for the county admitting the process is flawed.

  2. Three years ago I appealed and researched my argument thoroughly including pictures, documentation, history, etc. On the day of the appeal it was easy to see that the decision had been made before I stepped one foot in the room. They didn’t even hear what I had to present. This process is misleading and erroneous. The same for my any of my neighbors. I believe it was because we are DUNWOODY residents.

    My taxes are astronomical and absurd but I won’t go through that effort and waste of time again.

  3. Stan Jester

    Thank you for the enlightening feedback, that is quite disheartening. Did you have a hearing with the BOE (Board of Equalization)? Were you given a chance to present your case? Did they tell you why they ruled against you?

  4. Yes, we had a hearing. Several of my neighbors were scheduled the same day. I attempted to present my case, which was sent to them prior. It was easy to see that they were not interested. In fact the woman in charge said to the clerk, tell her the decision. It had already been decided. They did say we could appeal and that my taxes would not change for the following two years, which is true. This is the third year following and taxes have increased dramatically. I have no children of school age. They would not say how they determined the outcome. And….I really did have a powerful case.

  5. I had my hearing for my 2014 taxes about two weeks ago, and while I got a $21,000 decrease in my appraised value, logic meant little to the three-person board that heard my case. It was comical and scary – all at the same time!

  6. Marty Johnson

    Walter Hotz went over the changes in the appeal process at Nancy’s forum. It sounds like the process is a little fairer than in years past. I would encourage everyone to at least try.

    As a Realtor, please email me if you need help getting comparable sales from 2014 within a one-mile radius of your home.

    Marty Johnson
    Keller Williams Atlanta Perimeter
    mjohnson30338@kw.com

  7. Hello, thank you for your very informative post. My wife and I purchased a home in DeKalb on 2014. The property tax assessment for 2014 was $246k, but for this year is $295k (which was the transaction price). We applied for homestead. Am I correct that there’s no point in appealing the assessment, since the current assessment is based on the transaction price and the homestead exemption has a built-in rate freeze?

  8. mcm,
    I gave your question to a tax appeal attorney and this the response I received: “There is a law in Georgia that says that the tax assessor cannot assess a property in the year following the year of purchase higher that the purchase price paid for the property in the immediately preceding year – but there is no freeze – it is just for that following year only – unless you file an appeal for that “following” year – therefore, I would recommend filing an appeal in that following year for the purpose of trying to freeze the assessment (purchase price) for the year appealed plus two more years – filing an appeal is the only way to get the three year freeze – being the year appealed plus two more years.”

  9. Wow Nancy, thanks so much for doing that! Glad I asked.