By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
We, the Taxpayers is here to help
Placeholder Image

Dear Editor:

Can we help you? As a taxpayer you may be preparing for an appeal of your 2009 values and you also need to file that annual Return of Real Property, which can be helpful to setting values in 2010 at a level you believe is equitable, fair and at fair-market-value (that’s what the tax code calls for).

If these are issues you need help with, or you need more information, or you just feel the need to talk with friends and neighbors who share your concern with these issues regarding real property … let us help you.

“We, the Taxpayers” is holding a public meeting on Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at the county administrative complex in Springfield. We will have citizens who are knowledgeable in these areas to help you. Come and bring your tax bill with you, let us help you with the issues. No, we are not experts, but we have done a pretty good job of educating ourselves and we have those whose professional background gives them knowledge regarding these issues. We will have forms available and also citizens on computers to help you look up your property for the information you need and help you fill out the form while you are there.

The purpose of “We, the Taxpayers” has always been to help citizens become better informed about the actions of their government and more involved in speaking up, and out, regarding issues of concern. Our stated belief from the beginning was, and still is, “government is as good or as bad as the citizens allow it to be.” Stated another way, citizens need to be involved in their government at all levels. A good place to start is at the local level, city and county.

As part of our effort to have citizens involved we are offering help to all property owners in making their annual return of real property. This is an action that many citizens are unaware of and for many of us, who knew about it, we really did not realize the importance of this action.
It is the property owners’ opportunity to file with the tax assessors’ office what they, the property owner, feel is the correct fair-market-value, now in 2010. If the tax assessors disagree with you, they have to give you a hearing. There are a few more steps from there to the final decision. The law does plainly state that it is the responsibility of the tax assessors’ office to prove their case, rather than the taxpayer having to prove their point of view on the fair market value.

A word of caution — if you have a value under appeal and are awaiting a hearing before the Board of Equalization, do your home work and have the information to help establish your claim to fair market value, i.e., comparable properties, conditions on property that lower value, etc. Just prepare yourself to defend your value.    

To move on to where your values will be next in the assessments in 2010, file your “return of real property” (this should not be confused with your annual federal income tax filing), you have until April 1 to file this document with the tax assessors’ office.

“We, the Taxpayers” are continuing their effort in the petition to the court to remove the three tax assessor board members (John Robert, Marcus Kessler and Larry Weddle) who were sitting on this board at the time the new values for 2009 were approved. There will be a hearing Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. to hear the motion filed to dismiss this petition by 261 freeholders in the county. You are invited and urged to attend this court hearing. The 261 freeholders have been joined by a number of additional tax payers in this effort, although they did not have the opportunity to sign the petitions that were presented to the court, they have joined our effort.

For further information, “We the Taxpayers” have asked not for just roll-back to the 2008 values but for an implementation of HB 233 which allows taking back from the 2009 re-values that reduced the value of some properties. We are happy for anyone who got lower values in this difficult economic time, we just think that all property should have viewed in the same manner. The 2009 re-values are rife with unfair and inequitable values and there are large numbers of parcels that do not reflect fair-market-value in any sense of what 2009/2010 values are.

Values that remained constant for four to five years up to 2008 certainly did not become more valuable by 200 percent, 300 percent and 400 percent in 2009, when everyone knows that the real estate market in Effingham has been in the tank for the last two years. There is no reasonable explanation.

Your first step to righting the value of real property in Effingham County begins with preparing for your hearing before the Board of Equalization and making that Return of Real Property no later than April 1. Plan now to join your friends and neighbors on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the administrative complex (where the commissioners meet) in Springfield.

Ruth Lee