An update on the Fulton County 2017 Tax Digest

Fulton County continues to fight for approval of its 2017 tax digest.

Each year, each county submits its tax digest - a compilation of the county's tax values -  to the Department of Revenue for approval prior to sending out tax bills. Fulton County submitted its digest in October 2017, after canceling initial assessment notices and issuing corrected assessment notices during Summer 2017. The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue then rejected the digest, stating that the County had failed to comply with state law. Without digest approval, tax bills were delayed. Fulton County sought (and received) and temporary tax collection order from the Fulton County Superior Court, permitting the Tax Commissioner to send out tax bills in late 2017. 

Following the temporary collection order, Fulton County resubmitted corrected materials to the Department of Revenue, but in January 2018, was informed that the Commissioner would still not approve the digest. In an effort to get approval, Fulton County has filed a mandamus action in Superior Court, a lawsuit requesting the Court to determine whether the digest submission complied with the law and to order the Commissioner to approve the digest. 

Fulton County finds itself in uncharted territory. First, to the best of my knowledge, a county has never cancelled and issued new assessment notices, especially not on the scale done in Fulton County in 2017 (Fulton County issued new notices to all of its over 300,000 parcels).  Second, digest rejections have typically been due to technical errors, and quickly corrected; a fight over legal issues is rare. 

What if the Court declines to approve the digest? Fulton County could be required to revalue some or all of the properties for tax year 2017, resulting in new assessments, appeals, and tax bills. 

I will continue to monitor the mandamus action in Fulton County and bring you any updates. 

BOE member removed for bias and failing to comply with law

A Cherokee County Board of Equalization (BOE) member was removed for failing to comply with Georgia law and regulations and showing bias towards property owners. The removal follows a complaint filed by the Cherokee County Tax Assessors office and investigation by a grand jury. Read the entire story HERE

The majority of property tax appeals are heard and decided by the county's Board of Equalization (BOE), a three member board of citizens who own property in the county. Each BOE member receives basic training in appraisal procedure and Georgia law on property taxation, provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. 

Every year, I receive countless calls from property owners who have taken their property tax appeals to their county's BOE and who are frustrated by the process.  Property owners often feel that members of the BOE simply 'rubber stamp' the value presented by the Tax Assessors, giving little weight or consideration to their presentations. It is often unclear to me, however, whether the BOE is actually bias towards the Tax Assessors, or if the BOE lacks adequate training in the law, regulations and procedures of appeals. 

Perhaps the Cherokee County situation will set the stage for a property owner complaint about bias of BOE members towards Tax Assessors, or perhaps this situation simply demonstrates the need for more training for BOE members.