Written by: Patrick Price

A recent case in Habersham County, Georgia highlights the complexities of the property tax assessment appeals process, deadlines faced by the taxpayer and the County, and how the County’s own deadlines can work in the taxpayer’s favor.

Prior to 2019, it was common for property tax assessment appeals to sit with the County for an extended period—which ultimately prevented timely resolutions. But that year, language was added to Habersham’s statutes which created a deadline of 180 days for the County Clerk to hear property tax disputes.

In 2022, three taxpayers filed a total of eight assessment appeals in the County—representing $66.7 million in owners’ opinions of value. It was initially reported that the County Clerk notified the Assessor’s Office that they had been unable to locate a qualified Hearing Officer to handle the cases. But they sent the notification after the mandatory deadline to hear disputes. In further reporting, it surfaced from the Clerk’s Office that the Assessor had not even sent those appeals to them for scheduling until after the 180-day window had expired.

As a result of this default, the taxpayers’ opinions of value were accepted and recorded as the final assessment for the tax year that was appealed. Large refunds were awarded to the appellants.

Most taxpayers are aware of the potential losses they could incur by missing appeal deadlines. In this case, the applicable deadlines were actually a benefit to the appellants, rather than an impediment. For a successful property tax appeal, it is crucial to know the deadlines by which the assessor or board must act on your petition, and the remedies available to you should they default.

If you are facing complex property tax assessment reviews and appeals processes or have an understaffed internal tax department, DMA’s property tax experts can help assess the deadlines and make them work in your favor. Contact our team to learn more.