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Are Your Property Taxes Too High?

Posted in The Profit February 2017 by Bill Cook

Are your property taxes too high?  If they are, in the past three years, how often have you attended your county commissioners’ meetings to voice your outrage? 

My mother taught me early on that silence is a form of acceptance.  Most times at these county commissioners’ meetings the silence was deafening!

If your property taxes are too high and if you don’t speak out at the public government hearings, then you lose your right to complain.  Instead, just step up to the window and pay the nice lady what you owe without one complaint!

Since 2006, Kim and I have fought our property taxes 142 times.  We’ve won 122 times – that’s an 86% success rate.  I don’t say this to brag; I say this to let you know that you can fight your property taxes and win!  Just know that it’s a learned thing, not a born-knowing-how-to-do-it thing, and it begins with standing up and speaking out! 

Several months ago I had an interesting property tax day.  It began with a drive to Gordon County to turn in a property tax appeal.  I met with Dana Burch, the County’s Chief Appraiser.  She’s a very nice lady who really knows her stuff!

Gordon County increased the fair market value on one of our rental properties from $61,000 to $71,000 – that’s a 16.4% rise.  I didn’t agree with this increase.  After looking at the file, Dana realized a mistake had been made.  Once the mistake was corrected, my investment property’s fair market value dropped from $71,000 to $60,000.  This one visit saved us a good bit of money…money that will stay in our pockets instead of going into Gordon County’s coffer!

After meeting with Dana, I drove to the Bartow County School Board hearing.  The Board wanted feedback from citizens about the School Board’s property tax increase.  This tax hike concerned me enough that I took the time to speak at both the noon and six o’clock hearings.

Last week, on a local radio station, I heard someone say (and I believe it was one of the School Board members) that because the School Board was leaving the millage rate where it was, there really wasn’t a property tax increase.  I can’t disagree more!

Property taxes are comprised of two things: The millage rate and a property’s FMV (fair market value).  If the millage rate goes up and a property’s FMV stays the same, that’s a tax increase.  If the millage rate stays the same and a property’s FMV goes up (as is the case with many Bartow County properties), that’s also a tax increase.  And if both the millage rate AND a property’s FMV go up in the same year, that’s known as a double-barrel property tax increase!

The School Board members well know that in Bartow County, property values have gone up in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  So yes, by leaving the millage rate where it is, this is indeed a property tax increase.  Saying anything else is a bald-faced lie!

I don’t mind any members of the School Board voting to leave the millage rate where it is…I just ask that they stand up and proudly tell the property owners they represent that they fully supported the School Board’s property tax hike!  Don’t hide behind the cloak of, “Well, we left the millage rate where it was so property taxes didn’t actually go up.”  Poppycock!

This is what broke my heart: There are about 36,000 parcels of real estate in Bartow.  Yet at the noon hearing, only six or seven citizens spoke up.  At the six-o’clock hearing, maybe twelve people spoke up.  That’s it!

Again, I ask: Are your property taxes too high?  If they are, are you showing up and speaking out?  Where was your outrage?  Remember: Silence is a form of acceptance! 

About Bill Cook

Bill Cook

Bill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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