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Check property values closely
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The real estate foreclosure crises have played havoc with property values throughout the nation now for more than a year.


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


Owners who believe their property’s worth is below appraised value can possibly lower their taxes by filing a “Residential Property Tax return in accordance with O.C.G.A. 48-5-15 (A). Property owners can contact the Dawson County Tax Assessors Office directly or go to the county tax assessor 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 a true taxable value of their property. The property tax returns then go through the same course an appeal would, getting reviewed by assessors then the board of equalization, but according to law, the burden of proof is now shifted from you to the tax assessors.


This could prevent many taxpayers in this county from paying more property taxes next fall than they should. Remember, in order to take advantage of this little known, rarely used law, to file a “residential property tax return” you must file between the dates above.


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.


When you put in your own value, it will force the assessors to deal with you on an individual basis. I encourage every resident to exercise their legal right and file a residential tax return if they feel their tax evaluation is higher than the present day market value.


Hugh Stowers Jr.