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Strategies to lower property taxes

Many Georgia homeowners understand the burden of steep property taxes. However, there may be ways to get those taxes lowered without attending the local town hall meetings and protesting the tax rate. One approach that could result in a property tax reduction is to appeal the assessment. An assessment is an estimate of the property's value, which is determined on an annual basis by the local tax assessor. It involves factors such as comparing the property's value with the worth of like properties in the vicinity. Then, once the property's assessed valuation has been determined, it is multiplied by the local property tax rate.

Appealing the property's assessment requires property owners to confront the local property assessor to find out if their property has been described accurately. For instance, the assessment may have errors such as the wrong finished square footage amount or an incorrect number of bathrooms or bedrooms. Once corrected, the homeowner may end up with a lower assessed valuation of the property, which means there will be a lower property tax liability.

Other factors that could lower a property value include circumstances such as a flood, tornado or other major storms. In addition, anything that negatively affected the property could possibly result in a devaluation of that property. This could even include current market conditions, and if nearby properties are decreasing in value or are in foreclosure. However, if the property tax assessor refuses to lower the value of the home, the owner's next step is to appeal the assessment via a hearing at the local level.

Many homeowners who wish to appeal their property tax assessment retain the services of an attorney who is knowledgeable about local tax laws. The attorney could iron out any inaccuracies within the assessment in an effort to get the homeowner's property taxes lowered.

Source: Forbes, "How To Cut Your Property Taxes", John Wasik, Oct. 9, 2015

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