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Making your case before the board of equalization
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Dear Editor:
Well I finally got my notice from the Effingham County Board of Equalization telling me when my appointment for a hearing is.

It didn’t come to me, though, in a certified letter like I was told it would.  Instead the equalization board decided to insert it into the envelope that they sent to my son with his appointment. Maybe they saw a way to save on postage and just maybe they made an error. (Do you think?)  

Anyway, in looking over the notice, I saw a couple of things which I really disagree with.  The first thing is the board says that the tax assessor’s information is considered correct and it’s up to me to prove that my information is correct. If that is true, I wonder why the Georgia state legislators passed a law creating the taxpayer’s bill of rights which states “the new law places on the board the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the validity of the change.”  

To me that sounds like the burden of proof is on the board of assessors. Actually what is considered to be correct is the physical information about the property such as the size, number of baths, sketch, and other identifying data; not the values. However the way the notice is worded makes the taxpayer think that it is his/her responsibility to prove or disprove the value assigned to the property. Seems a little dishonest to me.   

The next thing is the notice indicates that the board of equalization serves only as a jury when I present my case. Now if this statement is true, I wonder why the Georgia state legislators passed OCGA 48-5-311 in 2006 which goes into great detail outlining the training requirements and duties of the equalization board members without once referring to them as a jury.

Actually, they have the authority to make any changes they see necessary in order to maintain market value and equality of assessments. It appears to me that the board of equalization is already trying to shortchange me and I haven’t even appeared before them yet.  

Now I’m just a country boy. Some folks back home would refer to me as a hillbilly, but even then they would know that I am quick enough to know when the rules are being changed or the playing field isn’t quite level.

Jerry D. McAtee
Senior Master Sgt. (ret.)
U.S. Air Force