Clock is running on ‘return of value’ deadline for property tax

Filing dates for a “return of value” on residential and commercial property began Jan. 1 and will continue through April 1. And as in previous years, tax assessment notices coming in May will only be sent if the fair market value property has changed since last year.

Fayette County Tax Assessor Joel Benton said his office has set a goal of May 3 to mail assessment notices, adding that those notices will be sent only if the property is determined to have increased in value or unless new legislation requires it.

Explaining the return of value process, Benton said if property owners that submitted the return of value form do not agree with assessor’s opinion they have the right to file an appeal. If not satisfied with that decision they can appeal to the Board of Equalization. If still not in agreement they can have their case heard in Superior Court.

The return of value form can be obtained at the Fayette County Tax Commissioner’s office at 140 Stonewall Avenue in Fayetteville or on-line at https://etax.dor.ga.gov/PTD/adm/forms/pt50r/index.aspx

There are significant numbers of variables that are considered when determining if the value of a home or property has increased or decreased, Benton said, regardless if a return of value declaration has been filed.

In comments last year, Benton noted examples of property increasing in value that included factors such as new construction, the completion of a home or improvements to the property like a garage, an additional room or a swimming pool.

In 2009, a total of 3,396 Fayette County parcels had a Return of Value form filed. Of those, 723 residential properties, or 21.3 percent, were determined by the tax assessor’s office to have decreased in value. But in terms of the 723 homes whose fair market value was reduced, Benton said those reductions ranged from 5 percent to 30 percent. The majority of the reductions were in Fayetteville and the immediate surrounding area and in the north part of the county, he said.

Also in 2009, the nearly 33 percent of property owners receiving an assessment notice with no change in the value in 2009 received the mailing because they filed the “return of value” in April, stating their belief that their property had lost value. Anyone filing a return of value will receive an assessment, regardless of the determination of fair market value.

Benton said Jan. 1 through April 1 is also the time to apply for a homestead exemption.

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