Senate Bill 177, Act 431 was signed April 30, 1999 and became effective January
1, 2000. The bill has two main thrusts:
• prevention of indirect tax increases
resulting from increases to existing property values in a county due to inflation,
• and enhancement of an individual property owner's
rights when objecting to and appealing an increase
made by a county board of tax assessors to
the value of the owner's property.
Rules for Rollback of Millage Rate When Digest Value Increased by Reassessments
The Revenue Commissioner developed rules and
regulations to implement the terms and provisions of O.C.G.A. 48-5-32.1.
Prevention of Indirect Tax Increases
Each year there are two types of value increases made to a county tax digest, increases
due to inflation, and increases due to new or improved properties. There are
no additional requirements if the levying authority rolls back the millage rate
each year to offset any inflationary increases in the digest. If it does not,
a local levying authority must notify the public that taxes are being increased.
Local levying authorities would include the county governing authorities, school
boards and municipal governing authorities.
The Revenue Commissioner will not authorize the collection of taxes on any digest
without a showing by the official submitting the digest that the local levying authorities
have complied with the law.
• Rollback of Millage Rate to Offset Inflationary Increases
When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia Law requires that
a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue
on the current year's new digest that last year's millage rate would have produced
had no reassessments occurred.
If the county elects to set their millage rate higher than the rollback rate, they
will be required to hold three public hearings, place notices of the increase in
the paper and issue press releases.
• Notification of Tax Increase With Three Public Hearings
The levying authority must hold three public hearings allowing the public input
into the proposed increase in taxes. Two of these public hearings may coincide
with other required hearings associated with the millage rate process, such as the
public hearing required by O.C.G.A Section 36-81-5 when the budget is advertised, and the public hearing
required by O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-32 when the millage rate is finalized. One of
the three public hearings must begin between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM in the evening.
• Publish Notice in Paper One Week Before Each Hearing
The levying authority must publish a notice in the paper one week in advance of
each of these three public hearings.
• Press Release to Explain Tax Increase
The levying authority must issue a release to the press explaining its intent to
increase the taxes.
Enhanced Taxpayer Rights During Appeal
The Georgia General Assembly has significantly increased the rights of property
owners whose values are changed by the board of tax assessors. The highlights
of these changes are listed below.
• Explanation With Change of Assessment Notice
The change of assessment notice must give the property owner a name and telephone
number of a knowledgeable person to call if they have questions about the value
change or appeal procedures. If the increase exceeds
15%, the notice must include a simple, non-technical explanation of the basis for
the change along with a statement informing the property owner that they may view,
or have inexpensive copies made of those tax records used by the assessors to determine
the value change.
• Assessors Must Provide Grounds for Rejection of Property Owner's Appeal
When a property owner elects to assert a position as the basis for their appeal
and the board of tax assessors rejects this position, the board must include in
their rejection notice back to the property owner the grounds for the rejection.
Thereafter, the board of tax assessors must stick to those grounds and not assert
new grounds later in the appeal process. If the property owner asserts a new
position, the board of tax assessors may assert new grounds for rejecting the new
• Burden of Proof on the Board of Tax Assessors
When the board of tax assessors changes the value returned by a property owner,
the board has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the validity
of the change. This burden continues to be on the board of tax assessors even
if the appeal goes to superior court, although the judge is not bound to either
the board of tax assessors' or the property owner's value when determining, or having
determined by a jury, the question of final value.
• One Time Option to Reschedule Hearing and Superior Court Proceeding
If the board of equalization, which hears property owner appeals, schedules the
appeal at a time inconvenient to the property owner, there is a one time option
for the owner to request a different and more convenient time, even one occurring
as early as 8:00 AM or as late as 7:00 PM. This property owner accommodation
is extended to the superior court proceeding, should the appeal go that far, where
the owner may request a hearing at a convenient time.
• Property Owner Could Recover Court Costs and Fees
In certain instances, the property owner may recover court costs and reasonable
attorney fees incurred in the appeal hearing before the superior court. The
property owner could recover these costs and fees if the court finds the final value
to be 85% or less (80% for commercial property) of the board of equalization's determination
of value. This would not apply, however, if the property owner had failed
to return the property for taxation.
• Property Owner Can Record Conversations
The property owner has the right to make an audio recording of any conversations
with assessors or appraisers when such recordings are relative to the owner's assessment,
appeal, arbitration or related proceedings. The owner must provide his or
her own equipment.
• Tax Commissioner to Provide Brochure About Property Tax Laws and Procedures
The tax commissioner, assisted by the board of tax assessors, is required to develop
and make available an informational brochure that explains the county's property
tax laws and procedures. This brochure will contain information about exemptions
and preferential assessment programs available in the county along with instructions
on how to apply. The brochure will be available in the tax offices and will
also be mailed to individuals purchasing property. If the General Assembly
creates a new exemption or preferential assessment program, the brochure will be
mailed to everyone who may be eligible for the new program.
Property Tax Forms
Click here to download real and personal property
For additional information about increases in the millage rate in your county, you
should contact the County Board of Commissioners
or the County Board of Education .
Additional contact information:
• Contact the County Tax Commissioner's office
for more information on billing and collection of property taxes.
• Contact the County Board of Tax assessor's
office for more information on property assessment values and appealing
a property assessment.
• Rollback of Millage Rate When Digest
Value Increased by Reassessments
• Property Tax Appeals
• Digest Compliance Section