11Alive News has learned one member of the Fulton County Board of Assessors will vote in favor of freezing home assessments at the 2016 levels. This comes a month after 11Alive News exclusively reported the county was assessing thousands of homes 50% or more than the previous year. That adds up to thousands of dollars in tax bills each year.
“I’m terrified to open my tax bill,” said Amber Schreiner, a resident of the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta.
Schreiner bought her home a year and a half ago because it felt like home. When she was growing up in the 1990s, she’d lived in the home with her mother. When she was in the market to buy and learned the house was for sale, she crunched the numbers to see what she could afford.
“We went in on our budget at a certain price,” said Scheider. “And to know what's added to our budget now is hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It makes it really challenging.”
Schreiner is in the area that has been assessed at more than 50 percent higher than last year. She will wind up paying hundreds more each year if something doesn’t change. That’s on top of the tax increase Schneider says she already received last year.
“We are asking them to either reevaluate those assessments individually or to freeze the assessments at 2016 levels,” said Fulton County Chairman John Eaves.
Homeowners in Milton, Alpharetta and other areas in North Fulton have also received significantly higher tax assessments.
Eaves says Fulton County is experiencing growth and job development which is driving real estate prices up, particularly for neighborhoods along the Atlanta Beltline.
Fulton County Chief Tax Appraiser Dwight Robinson mirrors that sentiment. He says the tax assessment increase is overdue.
“We did not do a residential review for 2016 so we have had to play catch up,” said Robinson. “So those increases represent not just one year. It represents two or three years when nothing was done.”
Amber Schneider sees the changes and development in her neighborhood. Across the street is a new home selling for more than $1.5 million.
“There's a house down the street that's on the market for $800,000 and I went back to look at the tax records and that last time it sold, it sold as a lot for $6,000,” said Schneider.
The Board of Assessors may meet later this week to votes on Eaves’ proposal to freeze taxes at the 2016 rate.
In the meantime, homeowners can appeal their assessment. The deadline for appealing is July 10.
Due to the sheer volume of appeals, the resolution may take some time. Homeowners are asked to be patient in receiving a response to questions regarding appeals. While your appeal is being resolved, it is imperative that you pay the temporary tax bill you have already received in order avoid any penalties and fees you may incur. Once the appeal is resolved, the Tax Commissioner's Office will recalculate your tax bill based on the final value. Taxpayers need to file their appeals no later than July 10, 2017.
Homeowners can also file for more than a dozen exemption to reduce tax bills. Exemptions are based on specific criteria and qualifications, and there are particular annual deadlines to meet in order to receive the annual exemptions. The filing for the 2017 Homestead Exemption has already passed, but the 2018 Homestead Exemption deadline is April 1, 2018.
Filing an appeal of your assessment and filing for a Homestead Exemption may be taken care of at the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors' website.