The Columbia County Tax Assessor's Office received fewer than half the number of re-assessment protests this year than it did the year before.
As of last week, the Tax Assessor's Office received just 580 appeals from homeowners about the assessed value of their homes for property taxes. Chief Appraiser Debbie Robertson said her office received 1,329 appeals in 2008.
"It was kind of a quiet year," Robertson said.
The deadline to file an appeal was Sept. 28.
Fewer appeals likely were the results of House Bill 233, which imposes a moratorium on property assessment increases for the next three years.
An unforeseen consequence of the law was a three-month delay in sending out assessment notices, which will lead to the subsequent delay in sending out property tax bills.
House Bill 233 did not freeze the value of properties that decrease in worth, and properties sold during the moratorium are taxed at their moratorium value unless improvements were made.
To reconcile these changes, an extensive software upgrade became necessary, and tax officials were unable to send out the notices in May, which typically is when they are ready.
By law, the Tax Commissioner's office must wait until the end of the appeals period before sending out property tax bills. As a result, the deadline to pay property taxes is Jan. 15, instead of November like in a normal year. Property tax bills will be sent out on Nov. 6.
Tax Commissioner Kay Allen said homeowners wishing to claim their property tax payments on their federal income taxes for 2009 must pay by the end of the year.
To facilitate those payments, her office recently added a feature to its Web site that provides property owners an estimate of their forthcoming tax bills.
With that estimate, property owners may go ahead and submit a payment, or multiple smaller payments, to Allen's office.
To view an estimate of their tax bills, homeowners can visit www.columbiacountyga.gov/taxcommissioner. Click on "Property Tax Division." Then under the "Tax Info" tab, scroll down to "Tax Calculation Worksheet." Those viewing the site will need copies of their property assessment notices.
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