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ASK THE EXPERTS

File residential property tax return

POSTED: January 14, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The real estate and foreclosure crises have played havoc with property values throughout this nation.

  

Wide areas of Georgia, as well as Dawson County, have seen so many properties flood the market causing values to plummet across this area.

  

Owners who believe their property’s worth is below its appraised value for taxes can possibly lower their taxes by filing a residential property tax return.

  

Owners can contact the Dawson County Tax Assessors Office directly or go to the county tax assessor’s Web site, where forms can be downloaded.

  

Filing must be in person between Jan. 2 and April 1. Owners can declare what they think is the true taxable value of their property.

  

The property tax returns then go through the same course an appeal would, getting reviewed by staff and eventually the county Board of Assessors.

  

This could prevent hundreds or maybe thousands of taxpayers in this county from paying more property taxes next fall than they should unless they take advantage of a little-known, rarely used option to file a residential property tax return.

  

Some Chief Tax Assessors are advising people who feel their values have slipped to file a return.

  

Based upon my experience, don’t hold your breath for this to happen in Dawson County.

  

Assessors are required by law to set the value as what the property should be worth in a fair-market sale as of Jan. 1, of each year.

  

However, they typically do not because it is easier to do nothing and still get paid our tax money.

  

Studies in Georgia found some zip codes in high foreclosure areas over paying taxes by millions.

  

They also found tax assessors very lax in doing what they are paid to do.

  

When you put in your own value, it will force the assessors to deal with you on an individual basis.

  

I encourage every citizen to exercise their legal right and file a residential property tax return if they feel their tax evaluation is higher than the present day market value.

  

Hugh Stowers Jr.

  

Dawsonville

 

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