Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the meaning of ad valorem property taxes?
Ad Valorem is Latin for "according to value," and is thought to be a fair basis for collecting taxes because the tax is proportional to your ability to pay and the benefits you gain from the services the county provides. It is a local tax that reflects local budget priorities.
2. Who determines the value of my property for tax purposes?
The Forsyth County Department of Property Evaluation determines your property value. This responsibility is managed by the Chief Appraiser, under the supervision and approval of the Board of Assessors.
3. Who appoints the Board of Assessors?
The members of the Board of Assessors are appointed by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.
4. How can I contact the Board of Assessors?
Call the Forsyth County Department of Property Evaluation at (770) 781-2106.
5. What control does the Board of Commissioners have over the office of Tax Commissioner?
None, other than the Board of Commissioners retains budgetary control over this office.
6. Who appoints the Chief Appraiser?
The Chief Appraiser is appointed by the Board of Assessors.
7. What level of laws govern the Tax Assessors?
Tax Assessors are governed by state law and provisions of the Georgia Constitution.
8. If I do not agree with these laws, who can I turn to?
If you feel the laws governing taxation can be improved, you may contact your State representative(s)/legislator(s) to discuss your concerns and suggestions.
9. Does the Tax Commissioner report to or control the Board of Assessors?
No, the Tax Commissionerís Office is an independent office separate from both the Board of Assessors and the Board of Commissioners.
10. What is the main duty of the Tax Commissioner in the ad valorem taxation process?
The main duty of the Office of Tax Commissioner is to collect taxes as assessed by the Board of Assessors through application of the ad valorem process, and to distribute the funds to the applicable authorities.
11. What determines an individual property tax amount?
Your tax amount is calculated using a combination of your property value and the millage rate.
12. What is the arithmetic of the process?
Here is an example calculation that illustrates the process:
Market value $100,000
x assessment ratio (40%) 0.40
= assessed value $40,000
x mil rate .026624 (total millage from all authorities)
= your tax bill $1064.96
13. What is the meaning of the term "tax digest?"
The tax digest is the sum of all the assessed values, after exemptions, of properties to be taxed within a particular jurisdiction.
14. What are the steps used by the Assessors when appraising my property?
Three approaches are used in appraising your property:
- The sales comparison (based on sales prices of comparable properties)
- The cost approach (based on the estimated costs of replacement or reproduction of structures, less accumulated depreciation, plus land value)
- The income capitalization process (based on how investors put prices on investment properties).
15. What is the difference between sales price and market value?
"Market value" is a theoretical notion of what a knowledgeable buyer would pay a willing seller in a normal market. "Sales price" is a historical fact from a particular transaction which may or may not reflect the conditions of a normal market.
16. What is the assessment value in Georgia, and who sets it?
The assessment percentage is 40% of market, and is set according to the laws of Georgia.
17. If my property value and assessment remain the same, can my tax bill change?
Yes. The tax rate is the product of two items ó the assessed value and the mill rate; a change in either can impact your tax bill.
18. How can you have a tax increase with no mill rate change?
A change in your assessed value or the loss of an exemption could produce a tax increase for you. The millage rate alone does not constitute "taxes."
19. What constitutes a millage rate?
The millage rate is calculated by dividing the total amount of money to be raised through property taxes by the total value of the tax digest.
20. Who sets these rates?
Millage rates are set by the Board of Education, the Board of Commissioners, and the State of Georgia.
21. Do I get an exemption from some assessed value and a reduction in taxes because I own a home and live in it?
Yes. This is known as a homestead exemption. Applications for homestead exemptions in Forsyth County are accepted year-round, however applications must be filed by April 1 in order to obtain the exemption for the current year. Applications filed after April 1 will result in the exemption being applied the next year. In addition, you must have been the owner of the property on January 1 of the year you are making application. If you purchased your property after January 1, you would not be eligible to receive the exemption until the next year.
22. Are there any other special exemptions?
Yes. There are several special exemptions which are on file in the Property Evaluation office.
23. What latitude does the Board of Assessors have to extend deadlines for filing Freeport or Homestead exemptions?
None. The law does not provide grace periods.
24. I disagree with my appraised value. Are there any avenues for appeal?
Yes, provided you have appeal rights for any given year. The grounds for appeal are:
The avenues available to you for appeal are:
- The Board of Tax Assessors
- The Board of Equalization or Arbitration
- Superior Court
25. What are my responsibilities, obligations, and procedures for an appeal?
Appeals may be started in response to assessment change notices generated by the Property Evauluation office. You can file a return between January 1st and April 1st declaring your opinion of value, or the Tax Assessors may reappraise your property. Either of these actions will result in an Assessment Change Notice. Once you receive a change notice, you must respond before the deadline included in the notice.
26. What kind of information can I provide to help the appeal process work better?
We invite you to provide transaction information and photographs of similar properties that have sold recently.
27. Isn't the objective of the Board of Tax Assessors to generate as much revenue as possible by keeping the assessed values up?
No. Budgets are the focus of other departments. The State of Georgia evaluates our department and its tax digest for accuracy and conducts statistical sample tests. The objective of the Board of Assessors is to create an acuurate tax digest from fair values. Failure to meet State standards for accuracy can result in penalties for the County.
28. What is the Board of Equalization and are there any costs for their services?
The Board of Equalization is a body selected and appointed by the Grand Jury, and is composed of citizens who are eligible to serve on a grand jury. There are no costs to you for using their services in an appeal.
29. What is arbitration and are there any costs to me as an appellant?
Arbitration is an option that you may use as an alternative to having an appeal heard by the Board of Equalization. Each side in an appeal must select and bear the cost of an arbitrator, as well as half the cost for a third arbitrator.
30. What are the costs for a Superior Court appeal?
A Superior Court appeal requires a $209.50 filing fee.
31. If I appeal my valuation, will the resulting decision be used in future years?
Under a recent State law, the Board of Assessors cannot alter the result of the Board of Equalization or a Superior Court Judgement for three years without an onsite inspection of the property.