Appeal NOW to Reduce Your Gwinnett Property Taxes
Here is a no-brainer that could save you thousands of dollars.
It’s property tax notice season, and the taxes you pay could well be determined by your actions in the next few days. How? Appeal your assessment!
You only have until the middle of June to get your valuation changed. The appraised value on your tax bill only affects the tax you pay, so don’t be afraid to ask to have it reduced, even if it is already lower than you think it should be. You can pay to have your appeal done, but the County has made it very easy to do it yourself. You will see the step by step instructions below, and with just a few clicks you will be able to ask for a reduction without ever leaving your computer or having to talk with anyone at the County.
1) First things first – find your home’s tax assessment.
If you have misplaced the Annual Notice of Assessment that was mailed earlier you can get this information from the County website:
Here you can search for your property by Owner Name, Property ID, or Mailing Address (don’t put in the state – the number and street should be enough). If you have lived in your home for a while you should find your property tax history going back to 2016. Click on 2020 and you will receive a pdf version of your Annual Notice of Assessment. This will show what the County believes to be your 2020 property tax “Fair Market Value” and “Assessed Value”. The Assessed Value will be 40% of your Market Value and is used to calculate your taxes. Download the 2020 statement.
2) Find surrounding home values and recent home sales
There are several ways to do this…
I – The GIS Data Browser
This is a very powerful took you will find on the Gwinnett County website:
Select “Top Links” along the top menu bar. Once the menu drops down select “GIS Data Browser”
Click to accept the conditions and the browser should launch. If you have problems with the map you might find better results with a different browser.
Play around with the tools (don’t get sidetracked – stay focussed!) until you are able to get a map of your street, zooming in until you see all the parcels. You can now select the ‘i’ (Information) tool on the map’s toolbar and click on your lot to bring up a detail window. In that pop-up window clicking on the “Property ID Link Property Details” will bring up a very detailed report on your property that includes square footage and maybe even a floor plan. This report should also contain your property and home value over a number of past years. You may be surprised (concerned?) to discover how much the County knows about your home. Make sure the info is correct! If it says you have 5 bedrooms and you only have 3 that is important.
Select the “Neighborhood Sales” tab to see the most recent sales near your home, or the “Property Report” tab to generate a pdf version of this information.
You can also use the GIS to see what the County has listed for appraised values of your neighbors. You may be very surprised – your home could be 25% higher than anyone on your block. That is a perfect trigger for an appeal.
II – Zillow
To see a map of your neighborhood with current estimated home prices, along with recent sales, turn to the private sector: http://www.zillow.com/
Type in your address and you should see your home. Click on the map below the satellite image of your home and click on “lot lines” to see values for other houses in your area. Homes with a little red dot are for sale, yellow dots recently sold. Clicking on any lot will bring up a ton of info in the panel on the right. Spend some time exploring – I am not going to tell you how to use Zillow. I picked all the homes closest to me that sold within the past two years. Remember, you can now use foreclosure sales.
Does the assessed value of your home match the selling values of comparable homes in your neighborhood? Even if it does, you might consider reducing the value by 10%.
3) File the Appeal
Before you file an appeal, please note – If your assessed value for 2020 was established by an appeal decision within the prior 2 years, filing an appeal may jeopardize the “frozen” value of your home. This may result in an onsite inspection and a new notice of assessment, the value of which may be greater than the initial 2020 value.
The County has made it easy to file an appeal electronically at this website:
Type your property by address (again without the city or state) and find your home listed in the search results. Select ‘value’ if you simply feel it is assessed too high (for instance, if it says you have more square feet than you actually do) and ‘uniformity’ (if you find other sales or assessments in your neighborhood that are lower than yours or the property tax values of your home is above average) as the grounds for appeal. Accept the default for where you want the appeal sent (BOE). Click ‘Continue’ and you will be sent to a screen with the current land and improvement (house) value. Make the adjustments you feel are accurate and give your reasoning.
Once you hit the final submit button your appeal is filed. You no longer have to print a document and mail it in. You do NOT have to pay for an appraisal! If the County accepts your adjustments, you win big. If they don’t you can always pay for an appraisal after the initial rejection and appeal in person.
I have appealed several times, and one appeal saved me over $1,500 a year for the next several years. Even though they didn’t accept my requested value, they met me in the middle.