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A big win for property owners?

Georgia senators are claiming a sweeping win for property owners with the unanimous passage of new legislation. From a senate news release… The most sweeping overhaul of the Georgia property tax system in decades has won unanimous (54-0) approval in the Georgia Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers’ (R-Woodstock) Property Tax Assessment and Appeals reform bill is aimed at ensuring all Georgia properties are properly assessed at Fair Market Value and that property owners have guaranteed rights to appeal. Recent real-estate sales data show widespread disparities between actual sales prices and current assessed values. A study of five metro-Atlanta counties shows an estimated overpayment of property taxes in excess of $200 Million during 2009. ’This is a real victory for Georgia property owners. We are one step closer to protecting taxpayers from assessments that greatly exceed true fair market value. Georgia property owners have the right to expect a fair property tax system. While this bill does not cure all the ills, it surely moves us closer to a system that actually works,’ said Rogers. ‘The unanimous Senate vote is a sign that we are on the right track and that regardless of political persuasion most everyone agrees the property tax system needs major reform.’ The overall reform includes more than 50 changes to current state law. Significant taxpayer friendly provisions include: Requirement that every property owner receive annual Notice of Assessment, which guarantees right to appeal: Every Notice of Assessment must contain estimated property tax Expansion of appeal time-period from 30 to 45 days Alternative streamlined appeal option for commercial property valued in excess of $1,000,000 Automatic taxpayer victory on appeals when government fails to respond within 45 days Requirement that all relevant sales, including distress sales, be included when determining Fair Market Value Requirement that only ‘current use of property’ be used in determining Fair Market Value Taxpayer must be given access to all data used in determining Fair Market Value Sales price establishes Fair Market Value for next tax year The Property Tax Assessment and Appeals reform bill was a result of a 2009 study committee on property taxes. A report of the study committee hearings can be found http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/committeereports.htm

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