In a recent ruling regarding Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors v. Fast Evictions, LLC, Court of Appeals of Georgia, (Feb. 16, 2012), the taxpayer raised an appeal with the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors to its 2010 tax valuation assessment for a parcel of real property in Fulton County. The taxpayer submitted a notice of appeal to the board and elected to use the arbitration provisions of OCGA §48-5-311 (f). Then, on July 26, 2010 and as required by that Code section, the taxpayer submitted in each case a copy of a certified written appraisal stating the estimated value of the subject property. That action triggered the beginning of the first of two 45-day periods; in the first 45-day period (ending on September 9, 2010) the board of assessors was required to either formally accept or reject the taxpayer’s appraisal:

Within 45 days of receiving the taxpayer’s certified appraisal, the board of assessors shall either accept the taxpayer’s appraisal, in which case that value shall become final or the county board of tax assessors shall reject the taxpayer’s appraisal, in which case the county board of tax assessors shall certify within 45 days the appeal to the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the property is located along with any other papers specified by the person seeking arbitration under this subsection, including, but not limited to, the staff information from the file used by the county board of tax assessors.

OCGA §48-5-311 (f) (3) (A). The fact that the statute provides for two, 45-day periods has recently been established by this Court. Fulton County Bd. of Tax Assessors v. Greenfield Inv. Group, LLC, (Case No. A11A1671, decided Nov. 17, 2011). As explained therein, the above quoted language establishes these two periods:

(1) the period following a board’s receipt of the taxpayer’s appraisal, within which the board must formally decide to accept or reject the appraised value; and (2) the period following a board’s decision to reject the appraised value, if it so decides, within which the board must certify the taxpayer’s appeal to the superior court so that the arbitration process can begin.

The same subsection of the statute goes on to provide that should the board of assessors fail to either accept or reject the taxpayer’s appraisal within the first 45-day period, “then the certified appraisal shall become the final value.”

In each case on appeal herein, the record shows that on September 23, 2010, 53 days after the taxpayer submitted the certified appraisal, the board of assessors notified the taxpayer that it had rejected the taxpayer’s appraisal and adopted a different recommended value for the subject property. But there is no indication in the record of when the board made its decision. Then, on October, 5, 2010, 71 days after submission of the appraisal, the board certified the matter to the superior court for binding arbitration.

It has been previously ruled that the Board does not have an obligation to notify the taxpayer within 45 day. The Board is required to have made a “formal decision” to accept or reject the appraisal that triggers the statute. In this case, the board does not provide a record where a formal decision had been made previous to the 45 day requirement, therefore the appraisal is by default accepted.

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