Atlanta Commercial Property Values under Scrutiny

The Fulton County Tax Assessors office is facing more scrutiny - this time, over commercial property values that appear to lag behind recent sales prices.

Local reporters investigated +260 multi-million dollar commercial properties sold since 2015, and found about 175 of the properties sold for significantly more than the Tax Assessors’ office had valued the property for tax purposes.

The inference drawn (and likely the subject of audit by the County Commissioners) is that these commercial properties are being under valued, putting a greater property tax burden on other property owners, including residential owners.

Atlanta, Fulton seek audits after questions about commercial values

Officials in Atlanta and Fulton County have requested audits to review allegations that government tax appraisers consistently undervalued commercial buildings and may have cost their governments millions in potential tax collections, a trend highlighted earlier this month in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation.

CUVA: a property tax strategy for farms and conservation land

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Georgia farm owners may qualify for a conservation use valuation assessment (CUVA) covenant, which can result in significant property tax savings.

CUVA is available to certain property owners, including individuals, family owned entities, estates, and trusts, who own land used primarily for agricultural purposes or conservation purposes. Qualified property owners can enter into 10-year CUVA covenant, during which they will received reduced property taxes in exchange for the promise to keep their land in its agricultural or conservation use.

The CUVA program was instituted to relieve farm owners from the pressure to sell their land for residential or commercial uses due to high property taxes.

Property owners interested in CUVA must careful consider if they meet the criteria and monitor their activities for the duration of the covenant. Breaches of the covenant are costly: property owner are penalized twice the tax savings for each year they have been in the covenant.

If you have questions about applying for CUVA or dealing with CUVA breaches, contact Sorenson Law at 404-507-6388.

Fulton County will seek Court Order to Collect 2018 taxes

Fulton County property owners should expect property tax bills to arrive later than usual - again - this year. 

The numbers are in: more than 8% of Fulton County property owners appealed their 2018 assessment values.  According to the AJC, 39,878 appeals were filed, contesting $19.7 billion in property values (about 27% of the total digest value for the county of $72.1 billion). 

Due to the volume of appeals, Fulton County will need a court order (called a temporary collection order) from the Superior Court to collect property taxes. Fulton County went through this process in 2017, when its digest was rejected by the Department of Revenue. In 2017, tax bills were not mailed out until very late in the year. The AJC's article states that the Fulton County Board of Commissioners are looking to act expeditiously on this matter to avoid a repeat of 2017, but the need for a court order will inevitably cause a delay in billing.

With 40,000 property tax appeals, Fulton can't submit tax digest

Fulton County cannot legally submit its 2018 tax digest to the state because nearly 40,000 people filed appeals that contend the county erroneously appraised their homes and businesses. Since the appeals in Fulton County represent more than 8 percent of the value of the tax digest, and 8 percent of parcels, the county has to go to court to ask a judge's approval to collect property taxes.