Equalization, Arbitration & Binding Arbitration
Board of Equalization
The Board of Equalization is an independent board appointed by the Grand Jury in each county. Some counties may have multiple boards of equalization.
Each person who is, in the judgment of the appointing grand jury, qualified and competent to serve as a grand juror, who is the owner of real property, and who is at least a high school graduate shall be qualified and competent to serve as a member or alternate member of the county board of equalization.
No member shall be competent to serve as a member or alternate member of the county board of equalization for the following:
- County Tax Appraiser
- Employee of the County Board of Tax Assessors
- Member of the County Board of Tax Assessors
- Member of a County or Independent Board of Education
- Member of the Governing Authority of a County, Municipality, or Consolidated Government
There is no cost involved in filing an appeal to the Board of Equalization, unless the owner chooses to hire a representative or attorney. The decision of the board of equalization is appealable by either party to the superior court.
Arbitration is a totally different process. If the taxpayer requests arbitration in lieu of the Board of Equalization, the Board of Tax Assessors will file the appeal with the Clerk of Superior Court, and a judge will assign a referee. If both parties agree, the matter may be submitted to a single arbitrator. If both parties agree, the referee may serve as the single arbitrator. If the parties do not agree to a single arbitrator, then three arbitrators shall hear the appeal. If one or both parties are unable to select an arbitrator, the appeal shall be heard by a single arbitrator that is appointed by the judge of the superior court.
To be qualified to serve as an arbitrator, a person must be at least a registered real estate appraiser as classified by the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board.
Cost & Fees
The taxpayer shall be responsible for the fees and costs of such taxpayer's arbitrator and the county shall be responsible for the fees and costs of such county's arbitrator. The two parties shall each be responsible for one-half of the fees and costs of the third arbitrator. In the event the appeal is submitted to a single arbitrator, the two parties shall each be responsible for one-half of the fees and costs of such arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator(s) in this case is appealable by either party to the superior court.
Binding Arbitration is yet another option for the property owner. Binding arbitration is available beginning in 2009 for disputes of value on real property only and is in lieu of either the board of equalization, or non-binding arbitration.
This form of arbitration involves only one arbitrator and is very time sensitive. Within 30 days of filing the notice of appeal, the owner must submit a certified appraisal. The board of assessors must either accept the certified appraisal within 30 days or certify the appeal to the clerk of superior court. Each step has a deadline. The arbitrator must choose between owner's certified appraisal or the tax assessor's value. The party whose value is not chosen must pay the cost of the arbitrator. The decision in this case is not appealable to the superior court.
This information is provided as a summary of the appeals process only. For complete details on the appeals process, see OCGA 48-5-311.