Are Your Property Taxes Too High?

What happens when you don't pay your property taxes?Are your property taxes too high? If they are, and if you live in Bartow County, where were you last night? Where was your voice? Where was your outrage?

 

My mother taught me early on that silence is a form of acceptance. Folks, at last night’s Bartow County School Board meeting, 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 132 times. We’ve won 112 times. That’s an 85% winning percentage. 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!

 

Yesterday was 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 2015 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 composed 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 in 2015) that’s also a tax increase. And if both the millage rate AND a property’s FMV goes up in the same year (as was the case in 2014) 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 and 2015. 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 he or she stand up and proudly tell the property owners they represent that he or she fully supported the School Board’s 2015 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!

 

Here’s where my heart got broken yesterday. There are about 36,000 parcels of real estate in Bartow. 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, and if you live in Bartow County, where were you last night? Where was your voice? Where was your outrage? Remember: Silence is a form of acceptance!

 

Bill and Kim’s North Georgia Real Estate Investors Association meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the beautiful Hilton Garden Inn off Main Street in Cartersville, Georgia. For more info, go to CashFlowREI.com.