Written by Rockdale Tax Commissioner Tisa Smart-Washington
By now, Rockdale County property owners should have already received their assessment notices in the mail and had an opportunity to review them. On some notices, nothing changed from last year. On other notices, the changes may mean changes on the tax bill that will be mailed in the fall. For property owners who appealed the value of their assessment by the June 12 deadline, the question may be “now what?”
Chief Assessor Lamar Sims shared the appeal process with me.
Once a homeowner has filed an appeal with the Board of Assessors, either in person or by mail, a time for an appraiser to visit and appraise the property will be scheduled. The appraisal may include a review of the outside and/or the inside of the property. Once the appraisal is complete, a value is determined. If the property owner agrees with the value, the appeal is closed. However, if the owner disagrees, the case is assigned to the Board of Equalization (BOE). There is no cost to you for using the services of the BOE in an appeal.
The BOE, which is a voluntary group of citizens, will hold a hearing with Board of Assessor’s staff and the property owner to determine the value of the property. During the hearing, property owners may provide evidence that supports their claim of value. The BOE will listen to all evidence presented and determine a value. If the property owner agrees with that value, the appeal will be settled. However, if the owner stills disagrees, the owner has 30 days to file an appeal in Superior Court. Both the BOA and the property owner have the right to appeal the decision of the BOE. There is a $25 fee to file an appeal to Superior Court.
Once a determination of value is made by the Judge of Superior Court, the appeal is settled and the value is final. Once an appeal is settled, the determined value will be used in calculating the tax bill for that year. Under State law, the Board of Assessors cannot alter the decision of the BOE or Superior Court for an additional two years without an on-site inspection of the property.
If an appeal is not settled by the time tax bills are mailed, property owners are required to pay at least 85 percent of the bill, although they could pay more. Once the appeal is settled, either the bill for the balance or a refund will be mailed. Refunds will be mailed to the property owner or, in the case of escrow accounts, refunds will be paid to the bank, depending who paid the property tax bill.
If you have questions about the appeal process, call the Tax Assessor’s Office. For questions about your tax bill, contact the Tax Commissioner’s Office. We will be happy to provide you with answers.
Throughout each month, Rockdale County’s constitutional officers— sheriff, clerk of courts, tax commissioner and probate judge—discuss topics relevant to their respective offices.