Glossary Of Terms  

AD VALOREM:
A tax levied in proportion to the value of the property.

APPEAL:
Upon receiving a Change of Assessment notice from the Board of Assessors that a change has been made in a property’s value, a taxpayer has 45 days from the date of the mailing (same as date in notice) to inform, in writing, the Board of Assessors that he or she requests an appeal.

TIME IS IMPORTANT - LATE APPEALS ARE INVALID.

The address to submit appeals is: Board of Assessors, PO Box 9786, Savannah, GA USA 31412-9786.

An appeal must be filed with the local Board of Assessors within the time provided. The Board of Assessors will review the valuation, taxability, uniformity, homestead exemption denial, or conservation use and other special program denials. The Board of Assessors may change the value or certify the notice of appeal and all necessary papers to the Board of Equalization.

Upon receipt of an appeal, the Board of Equalization will set a date and notify the appellant, at least 20 days in advance, of the time and place for the hearing. The taxpayer or his duly authorized representative and the Board of Assessors or their duly authorized representative shall both be present at the hearing before the Board of Equalization. Each party will be given an opportunity to present his side of the issue.

The Board of Equalization shall decide each question presented by the appeal. Notice of the decision shall be given to each party. The appellant’s notice shall be sent by certified mail.

The taxpayer or the Board of Assessors may appeal the decision of the Board of Equalization to the Superior Court. The appeal by either party must be filed within 30 days from the date the decision of the Board of Equalization is mailed.

APPRAISED VALUE:
An estimate of value is determined by the appraisal staff. It is based upon interpretation of facts and judgments and their processing into an estimate of value as of a stated date. The value most commonly sought is fair market value.

ARBITRATION:

A method to resolve disputes between property owners and the Board of Assessors. A
certified appraisal that is signed and certified by a real property appraiser as classified by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board must accompany the arbitration appeal and the filing fee. Arbitration appeals may only be for value, and they may be either real property or personal property. A panel of licensed appraisers (selected by both parties) hears the dispute and arbitrates the issues. The property owner is responsible for certain filing fees, partial arbiter fees, referee fees, and other possible court mandated fees. This method is not appealable to Superior Court.

ASSESSED VALUE:

Forty percent (40%) of the fair market value.
Example:

$75,000 Fair Market Value of Property
    x 40%
$30,000 Assessed Value

You are taxed on the assessed value of your property. This is a state law and all taxable property throughout the State of Georgia is assessed at 40% of the fair market value. (Ref.1983 House Bill 230).

BINDING ARBITRATION:
A method to resolve disputes between property owners and the Board of Assessors. A panel of licensed appraisers (selected by both parties) hears the dispute and arbitrates the issues. The decision reached by Binding Arbitration has to be either the Board of Assessors’ value or the property owner’s value. Furthermore, the decision that is reached in Binding Arbitration cannot be appealed further, and the side that does not have their value chosen is responsible for all appropriate costs associated with Binding Arbitration.

BOARD OF ASSESSORS:

Up to a five-member board, appointed by the County Commissioners, reviews all returns of both real and personal property of each taxpayer. If, in the opinion of the Board of Assessors, any taxpayer has omitted from his return any property that should be returned, or if he has failed to return any of his property at a just and fair valuation; the Board of Assessors shall correct such returns and shall adjust the assessment to reflect a fair valuation on the property. Whenever any such correction, change, or equalization is made, the Board of Assessors will give a written notice to the taxpayer of such change. This written notice will be a form mailed in an envelope marked “Official Tax Matter.” If you feel the value placed on your property is inequitable, you have a right to appeal. (See Appeal)

BOARD OF EQUALIZATION:

A three-member board of persons who own real property and are eligible to serve as grand jurors. The Board is appointed by the Grand Jury with oversight being held by the Clerk of Superior Court. This Board is charged with hearing appeals by taxpayers that concerns value and determining if a property is uniformly assessed with like properties. If the Board determines that uniformity is not present, the Board shall have the power to order the Board of Assessors to take such action as is necessary to obtain uniformity.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX:
A measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

FAIR MARKET VALUE:
The price that a property would bring in a competitive market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, which will result from negotiations between a buyer and seller, each acting prudently, with knowledge, and without undue stimulus.

HEARING OFFICER:
Either a state certified general real property appraiser or state certified residential real property appraiser may hear appeals based on value or uniformity for property values that are nonhomesteaded
and have a value in excess of $1,000,000. The hearing officer’s classification must be recognized by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board. The Clerk of Superior Court has oversight over the Hearing Officer.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS:
The homestead of each resident of the state of Georgia actually occupied as a permanent residence and homestead on January 1 of the tax year, may be exempted from certain Ad Valorem Taxation providing the exemption is returned and claimed in the manner prescribed by law and approved by the Board of Assessors. For details, see the attached “Homestead Exemptions” sheet.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION - DISABLED VETERAN:
If you are a disabled veteran and meet certain physical qualifications, you may be eligible for a homestead exemption of up to $50,000 of assessed value. For more information and details, please contact the Assessors office (Ref. Georgia Code Ann. Section 48-5-48).

MILLAGE RATE:
The millage rate is the rate of taxation set by the governing authorities and the School Board to produce the necessary revenue to pay for the operation of local government and schools. It is expressed in mills per dollar of assessed value. One mill equals 1/10 cent - (one thousandth of a dollar, $.001)

2010 Millage Rate
Incorporated     Unincorporated  

State .25   State .25
School 14.131   School 14.131
County 10.537   County 10.537
School Bond 0   School Bond 0
      Spec. Ser. Dis. 3.475
Total without Transit 24.918   Total without Transit 28.393
Transit .82   Transit .82
Total with Transit 25.738   Total with Transit 29.213

NOTATION TO ABOVE TOTAL RATES:
The transit figure reflects property within the Chatham Area Transit Authority District.

PROPERTY OWNERS’S ADDRESSES:
It is important that taxpayers immediately notify the Assessors Office of any change in their mailing address. Georgia law requires that all tax notices be sent to the taxpayers at their last known address. All change of addresses must be submitted in writing. The property owner can fax the request to 912-652-7334.

RETURNS:
In accordance with Georgia law, all property held and subject to taxation on January 1 of the tax year, shall be returned by the owner to the Assessors Office during the time for making returns, between January 2 and April 1 of each year.

Any taxpayer who fails to return his property for taxation shall be deemed to have returned for taxation the same property at the same final valuation and same real property exemptions as for the preceding year.

MAKING A RETURN:

  • TIME: Between January 2 and April 1 from 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday
     
  • PLACE: Assessors Office, Chatham County Judicial Courthouse, 133 Montgomery St., Fifth Floor, Room 503
     
  • HOW: Ask to strike a return. The clerk will present the prepared form to the taxpayer. Taxpayer reviews property description and valuation. If valuation is accepted, sign the form and return to clerk. If not accepted, line-out the value and write-in your opinion of the true market value of the property as of January 1 of the tax year.
     
  • WHO:
    RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL, and AGRICULTURAL:
    Return must be made if:

    1. Property has been partially sold.
       
    2. Improvements have been added, i.e., swimming pool, rooms, carport or porch enclosed, patio, sundeck, central air conditioning, or extensive remodeling.
       
    3. Buildings have been razed or destroyed by fire or the elements.
       
    4. Valuation is not equitable.

BUSINESSES, MARINE PRODUCTS, AND AIRPLANES:
All businesses must return their personal property each year, i.e., inventory of goods, wares, merchandise, fixtures, mill supplies, raw materials, machinery, and equipment. This also applies to marine products and airplanes owned by individuals and/or corporations.

FARMS:
All farm equipment and certain livestock must be returned each year, i.e., tractors, bailors, combines, cultivators, milking equipment, horses, cows, mules, pigs, etc.


SPECIAL SERVICE DISTRICT:
The unincorporated area of the county which receives county services not provided to other areas of the county. Services provided to this area of the county are police, county inspections, county engineering, public works, recorders court, and the metropolitan planning commission.

TAXABLE PROPERTY:
All types of property, both real (real estate) and personal (boats, motors, merchandise, machinery, equipment, etc.) are taxable unless specifically exempted by state law. All personal clothing, household and kitchen furniture are exempt, provided they are not held for rental, sale, or commercial use.

TAX COLLECTOR (COMMISSIONER):
Head of the department whose responsibility it is to collect taxes. This position is held by an elected official. The office is located on the First Floor of the Judicial County Courthouse.

TAX DIGEST:
A listing of all property subject to Ad Valorem taxation within the county, together with property identification, ownership, and assessed value.

TAX RECEIVER:
Administrative head of the department whose responsibility it is to receive tax returns and make out the tax digest. This position is by appointment of the County Commissioners. In Chatham County, the Chief Appraiser is the Receiver of Returns.