If you live in Georgia, and you own property, you’re going to be paying Georgia property tax. You’re probably also going to have some questions about how these taxes work, when they’re due, if you can appeal yours, and when you might be exempt or able to get a deferment.
If you wish to file an appeal, you must do so in writing no later than 45 days after the date of the assessment notice. The deadline to file is this Saturday, August 20, 2022, and all appeals must be processed or postmarked by 5 p.m. on that day. If you do not file an appeal by this date, your right to file an appeal will be lost.
Appeal forms which may be used are available at http://dor.georgia.gov/documents/property-tax-appeal-assessment-form. The forms are also available for pick-up at the Seminole County Tax Assessors office.
If you have further questions you may contact the County Board of Tax Assessors which is located in the Seminole County Courthouse at 200 South Knox Avenue in Donalsonville. Call the office at 229-524-5831 or reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reason for property
First, in order to understand your increase, one must understand the process of the mass appraisal process as directed by the State of Georgia.
Code Section 48-S-2; 6 instructs the Board of Assessors to determine Fair Market Value – the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept at an arm’s length sale.
Second, the Assessors Office must abide by certain guidelines that are set by both the Department of Revenue and the Department of Audits. If this criterion is not met, the digest, which is a collection of all taxpayers’ values, will not be approved by the Department of Revenue for collection. If the digest is not approved, there will be no property taxes collected – county, school, library, etc. These property taxes, as you know, help maintain important essentials of the county – law enforcement, roads, public schools, public library, etc.
The main report the Assessors Office must answer to is what is known as the State-Wide Equalized Report. This report is supported by Ga. Code Section 48-5-274 and governed by the Department of Audits. The report measures how close the values of the county are to Fair Market Value as well as to the uniformity of the properties within the county. This report includes all classes of property – land, residential, commercial, etc.
Based on the last couple of years, it was determined that the cost schedule for residential buildings was low, or $56.50 per square foot. It was determined that this number needed to be increased to $75 per square foot to meet the needed Fair Market Value that would meet the needed criteria.
After the increase to this class of property countywide, our studies are within the acceptable limits that are .36 to .44 in order to get the county’s digest approved. Seminole County’s new number is 38.21, which is still a little less than ideal. 40% is perfect. The Statewide Equalized Report is available for Public Review.
Seminole County Board of Tax Assessors chairman Wayne Worhsam offered the following on Sales Ratio Analysis . . .
Tax Assessors are primarily responsible for two things: (1) Assessing property at the correct level of value; and (2) Insuring uniformity of these assessments among the many property owners.
So, it stands to reason that a person serving as an assessor should know how to test for these two things within their county. How can you function properly if you do not know how to measure for uniformity? The only way to measure uniformity or dispersion in a mass appraisal tax program is to use sales ratio analysis. Understanding sales ratio analysis is imperative to be a responsible assessor.
What is a ratio? It is simply one number divided by another or one number compared to another. In our case, it will always be the assessed value divided by the sale price. In other words, we want to know how the assessed value stacks up against the selling price of a property. This is the first step in doing a sales assessment ratio study. Of course one sale or one comparison does not tell us anything about how well or poorly the job is being done, but a number of these ratios would. This calculation would be done for all samples in the study. The first meaningful statistic in a sales ratio study is the median ratio. The median ratio measures the level of assessment. To meet the standards of compliance set in Georgia Rules and Regulations the median ratio must be between .36 and .44.
There are many kinds of averages such as the mean, median and the aggregate or weighted mean. In doing the ratio study we calculate all three and go over in depth what they all indicate. The one that we shall use to measure our level of assessment is the median. Median means the middle. In order to calculate the median we must first array or list the ratios in the study in order of rank. List the smallest one first and the largest one last in ascending order. If there are an odd number of samples, you pick the one in the middle and that is the median. If there is an even number of samples, you take the two in the middle, add them together and divide that total by two to get the median. In addition to the average ratios being called the level of assessment, it is also referred to as the measure of central tendency.
To calculate the mean ratio, you get the sum of all the ratios and divide that number by the number of samples.
The aggregate ratio or weighted mean is the total of the sale price divided into the total of assessment.
The next thing to calculate is how far the median is from each of the individual ratios in the study. What we want is the absolute deviation from the median ratio. Look at the fourth column in the ratio study. After calculating the absolute deviation for each of the ratios add all of them and divide the sum by the number of samples. This will give you a statistic called the average absolute deviation or just the average deviation. This statistic alone does not tell us too much but it gives us the ability to calculate the next one that does.
The next statistic that we shall calculate is called the coefficient of dispersion. It is the average deviation divided by the average ratio and since we use the median it will be known as the coefficient of dispersion about the median. The coefficient of dispersion is the statistic we use to measure for uniformity within a classification or type of property. According to the standard of the International Association of Assessing Officers the coefficient of dispersion should be less than .2000 for all properties except residential properties and the standard for this property is .1500. Also in this course we shall talk about standards set by the Department of Revenue Rules and Regulations, since this is the statistic that will be used to determine whether or not your digest will pass the uniformity test.
The last statistic is called the price related differential. It is the mean ratio divided by the aggregate ratio and it measures for bias. Bias is defined by Georgia law as any trend or tendency of assessment ratio when analyzed by an appropriate statistical method that reveals assessment progressivity or assessment regressivity. Progressivity is the overvaluing of higher value properties while regressivity is the overvaluing of lower value properties. The standard for the PRO would be 1.00 and would indicate not bias. A PRD of less than one indicates progressivity and a PRO greater than one indicates regressivity
We now have talked about three meaningful statistics out of a sales ratio study that will determine
1) the level of assessment, 2) the uniformity of the assessment, and 3) if you have assessment bias. These are also the three things the Revenue Commissioner is going to use to review your digest in the years to come. Your digest will have to pass the level test as determined by the median ratio, the uniformity test as determined by the coefficient of dispersion and the bias test as determined by the price related differential.