Some Cowetans got an unwelcome surprise in their mailbox this week – assessment notices showing significant increases in their property’s tax valuation – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars or more.
The assessment notices don’t go into detail of what makes up the value – the value of the structure, of the land and of accessories.
However, all those details are available by searching for your property on the Coweta County Tax Assessors website, www.cowetatax.com .
The website contains additional information including sketches of the house and other structures, information about septic tanks, and sales information.
There is also access to a map, and visitors to the website can check the assessments and other information about neighboring properties by clicking on those properties on the map.
There’s also the ability to begin an appeal, right from your property’s record page.
Tax rates won’t be set until August
The notices also contain an estimate of what property taxes would be with the new value – but that “estimate” isn’t based in reality – because this year’s property tax rate hasn’t been set.
The office has been busy this week, with phones ringing off the hook. The office isn’t open for walk-in traffic because of COVID-19, but visitors can call ahead.
Coweta Chief Appraiser and director of the Coweta Board of Assessors Mike Marchese said he prefers correspondence through email, because it creates a record. But much information can be obtained through the website.
Coweta property owners can appeal the new valuation if they think it is too high, and obvious errors can be corrected without an appeal.
But taxes can’t be appealed – because taxes are separate from the tax valuation. Tax rates are set by each taxing authority – the Coweta County Board of Education, Coweta County Commissioners, and various city councils – typically in August.
The tax estimate is based on last year’s millage rate, and including the estimate on the notices is required by state law.
“As is always the case, people want to talk about the tax amount,” Marchese said. “We are sympathetic, but that is not a part of the conversation we can legally have. Our responsibility is to reflect an accurate fair market value.”
Marchese said he thinks putting the estimate on the assessment notices just adds to confusion for property owners.
“It has its good points, such as helping people understand how homestead exemption credits work and how their property may be affected by a conservation use program,” he said. “But it leads people to think that the amount of the taxes is appealable, and it’s not.”
Because the county’s tax digest – the total value of all property in…