Board of Equalization 101, a few things one needs to know before heading to his or her appeal.

Once a property owner has filed an appeal on his or her parcel, and it doesn’t get reduced at the assessor’s office, it gets forwarded onto the board of equalization.  This is who will listen to the appeal from the assessor’s office as well as the property owner. 

After the board listens to the appeal, they will render a decision as to the value and the results will be mailed to the homeowner via certified mail within a week to ten days after the hearing.  If the homeowner is still not satisfied with the board’s decision, he or she may file the matter onto superior court within 30 days of the results being mailed out.

The members of the board of equalization or “b.o.e” are “supposed” to be independent of the assessor’s office and they are usually appointed by the grand jury of the county the property is located in.  For the most part, the clerk of court or the district attorney’s office,  oversees the board of equalization and members who make up the boards.

Typically the board members are retired and come from all walks of life.  Each of them must take a 40 hour course on appraisal methods, etc. as well as a few hours of continuing education annually.  After this, they are allowed to listen to appeals and render the decisions as to the fair market value on millions of dollars of real estate.  That alone is plain scary because it takes years to understand how land and improvements are valued and how improvements are depreciated and how to understand an income approach to value or market approach to value.  What i’m trying to say is that 40 hours of course work on this will provide someone with just enough information to basically be “dangerous.”

If a taxpayer goes to his or her hearing and gets a “bad” board, he or she will receive a “no change” in the value and then no money will be saved on the tax bill for that particular tax year.  If at all possible, it is best to to meet with the appraiser handling your appeal, to try to come up with something agreeable to both parties.  If one doesn’t do this, then it is a “crap” shoot of how the appeal is going to go because the person appealing the assessment won’t find out what board he or she has until he or she arrives at the hearing. 

I have been appealing assessments for the past 17 years and i still run into some of the same board members who have been doing it for as long as i have or longer than i have.  Some of them are good to appear in front of, and will do their job correctly, and for the most part the taxpayer has a chance to obtain a reduction in their value.  On the flip side, some of them don’t have a clue, really, as to what is going on and they typically always side with the appraiser and do whatever he or she recommends (even though they are supposed to make a decision on their own independent of what the appraiser says or what the taxpayer says.)

I’ve found that when appearing before the board of equalization, it is important to allow the county appraiser to go first and it is important not to interrupt the appraiser or any of the board members.  It also helps to speak slowly and clearly and to engage the board and make sure they are paying attention to what is going on and that they get the gist of what the taxpayer is trying to convey.

From my past experience in some of the larger counties in metro Atlanta, I’ve noticed that some of the board members feel that they are “un-touchable,” because they don’t really answer to anyone and they can seem uppity, rude, condescending and “pro-county.” 

I’ve done over 1,000 hearings in my time and i know how the process works and i have pretty much seen about everything there is to see at these hearings.  I’ve been treated well by some boards and very poorly by others, but i know what i can do about it. 

The sad thing is that the property owners doing their own appeals for the first time may get “run over” by a board and not even know it.  It is imperative for a taxpayer to report this behavior if he or she feels that they were mistreated.  It is important that the people in charge at the county, who run the board, know what was experienced and it’s important to let the d.a.’s office know what happened as well as the clerk’s office if applicable. 

The board members have to answer to someone just like the rest of us and they can be fired or removed from their position.  Many of them, being retired and all, don’t want to lose their position, because then they don’t get paid and they have nothing to do really and it’s hard finding work these days.

The bottom line is remember the “golden rule” and treat the board like you would want to be treated.  

I’ve made it a practice to speak up immediately, if i’ve had a negative experience at any board in any county.  It’s like a lady from the d.a.’s office at a large, metro, county told me one day, “the d.a’s office giveth that board position and the d.a’s office can taketh that position away too.”

If any of you have had a bad experience at a board of equalization hearing, I would like to hear about it.  Also, if any of you feel like you will be outside your comfort zone, presenting an appeal, contact me.  It doesn’t cost as much as you think to have professional representation.

About taxappealatlanta
I help my clients save money on their property tax bills by appealing their property tax assessments. I primarily work in the metro Atlanta GA area, including Fulton, and Dekalb Counties, but also work all over the southeast.

7 Responses to Board of Equalization 101, a few things one needs to know before heading to his or her appeal.

  1. Charlie Hill says:

    Hello, I submitted an appeal to my local accessors office and have been denied my request for reduction and now set up for a hearing with the boe. I live in muscogee county ga. I dont know if i have a good case for reduction or what representation would cost. Thank you, Charlie Hill

  2. Donald Johnson says:

    Hello. Thank you for your article and information. I have an appeal coming up in 3 days and would like to speak with you. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

  3. Esterine says:

    October 14, 2015, Hearing before the Fulton County BOE. The BOE members refused to listen to or review or discuss my Comparative Market Analysis or my subdivision issues because, they “accepted the Appraisers comparatives and I already had prior Hearings” and reductions. Thus tripling my taxes!!

    I felt insulted and demeaned, and disrespected. I followed the BOE’s guidelines, invested in research time, cost of printing, travel …all for nothing!!

    • Hey Esterine, I know what you mean. It’s tough at Fulton and the boards are good and bad. If you need assistance in the future, please contact me. I’ll analyze your situation for free and let you know if I can help you or not. I’ve got 21 years experience and I have a simple and proven method that helps me win 98% of the appeals I try.

  4. Beth says:

    Very informative. I have searched everywhere. Can a BOE disagree with both parties and suggest their own amount? For example they thought the Tax office has over priced a barn that has been added to our property. They thought our appraiser lower valued the barn. I feel like the rep from the Tax Assessors bullied the board. Could the BOE suggested a value in the middle of the two? Or is that out of their scope?

    • Hey Beth, what county was your appeal in? In the past, the boards could come up with a value that was perhaps in the middle of what the taxpayer was asking and what the county assessor was asking, but now that is typically not the case. The county recommends “no change” to the value and whatever value you select is what they can approve. Typically though, the board is going to do what the county appraiser recommends. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but that’s how it usually goes….So it is important to speak with the appraiser prior to the hearing to try and get something worked out. A little give and take. Some boards are good and some not so good, and you have no control over who will hear your appeal, so it’s best to try and get something worked out ahead of time in lieu of taking your chances with what board hears your case.

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