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Changes coming to tax notices
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As 2010 ends and the new year begins the sweeping changes of Senate Bill 346 become effective on Jan. 1, 2011. 
As in past years, any Effingham County taxpayer who disagrees with the current value of their property can file a property tax return between Jan. 1 and April 1 with the Effingham County Board of Tax Assessors. However, beginning in 2011, all owners of real property, land and buildings will receive an assessment notice every year. Regardless of whether a property tax return was filed or not filed, you will receive an assessment notice. 
A new requirement has been added to the Georgia Code that requires the use of a statewide uniform assessment notice established by the state revenue commissioner. This will alleviate taxpayers who own property in more than one county from having to interpret different formats of assessments notices. They all have the same information, but the layout of the notice differs from county to county. 
New requirements for the notice include contact information for the person in the office administratively responsible for handling an appeal; the Web site address of the board of tax assessors if available and a statement that all documents and records used to determine the current value are available upon the request of a taxpayer. The notice must also contain an estimate of the current year’s taxes based on the current proposed assessment value for all taxing jurisdictions that may apply to the tax bill. The 2010 millage rate will be used in the estimation as the requirement states that the last year’s millage rate be used for the estimation. The notice will contain a statement explaining the estimation and that the actual tax bill you receive may be more or less than this estimate. Assessment notices must be mailed no later than July 1 except in the case of corrections or mapping changes. Undeliverable notices must be posted on the front of the courthouse or posted on the Board of Assessors Web site; in either case for 30 days. 
Other new requirements are options for the appeal process and a statement on the notice that options must be declared when the appeal is filed. The options are an appeal to the board of equalization with the right to appeal to superior court; the appeal to arbitration without the right to an appeal to superior court; and for non-homesteaded property valued greater than $1 million an appeal to a hearing officer with the right to appeal to superior court. 
Property owners can apply for homestead exemption year round; however the application must be filed by April 1, 2011 to be applied for the 2011 digest year. Any applications received after that date will be applied to 2012. The requirements for filing for homestead exemptions are the taxpayer must own the land and building and live on the property on Jan. 1, 2011. 
There are other special assessment programs available to property owners. These special programs include Preferential Agricultural Property, Conservation Use Property, Environmentally Sensitive Property, Residential Transitional Property and the Forest Land Protection Act covenant. They are 10 year covenants on all, except the Forest Land Protection Act, which is a 15 year covenant. Appraisers in the Tax Assessors office can explain the special programs and help you with the application. The deadline for filing for a special assessment is April 1, 2011. If you received a letter from the Board of Tax Assessors in the latter part of 2010 notifying you that your Conservation Use Covenant would end on Dec. 31, 2010, you have until
April 1, 2011 to file an application to keep your property in this special assessment program. 
You can find the answer to some questions and view property information and parcel maps on the Web site Forms are available on the site. 
If you have any question please contact the Effingham County Board of Tax Assessors office at 754-2125.