A Little Known Law That Can Save You Thousands

Walter Hotz, Esq. Appeals

Changing real property values established by appeal in prior year (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 (c)) is probably the single provision in Georgia law that can save you the greatest number of dollars. The statute provides that any value that is established through a real property tax appeal will be frozen for the tax year appeal plus 2 more years. This is a tool that you should use in managing the amount of property taxes you pay.

You should use O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 (c) regardless of whether your assessment is too high, about right or below market. If your assessment is too high, you should obviously attempt to get it lowered and if you do so properly by using this tool, the result obtained would be frozen for the year appealed plus 2 more years. If your assessment is about right or is below market, you should appeal and use this tool to freeze your current assessment for the tax year appealed plus 2 more years. Keeping the tax assessor from being able to raise your assessment for two years can be, and most likely will be, worth thousands of dollars to you.

Under O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 (c), as it currently stands, you get the freeze for the additional two years even if you are unsuccessful in getting a lower assessment. Therefore, using O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 (c) is a no-brainer.

However, in the 2014 legislative session, there was a bill introduced in the House that would have made it such that you would only get the two-year additional freeze, if a reduction was achieved in the appeal. Thankfully, that bill was defeated but I am fearful that it will raise its head again. Accordingly, you need to take advantage of O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 (c) while you can.

Lastly, remember there is no risk in filing a property tax appeal. The county cannot attempt to raise your assessment just because you filed an appeal. You have a free shot to either attempt to lower your assessment and/or to freeze your assessment.

The only time that I advise my clients not to file an appeal is if they had previously filed an appeal and they are currently under the two-year additional freeze.