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Frequently Asked Questions
We have developed a list of the questions taxpayers most frequently ask us and provide it here for you to use
whenever you have a question about property valuation and taxation in DeKalb County. Click on the question
you have, and you will be taken directly to the answer. If you cannot find your particular question on this list,
please feel free to give us a call, and we will be glad to help.
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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 the value of your property. It is a local tax that reflects local budget priorities.
2. Who determines the value of my property for tax purposes?
The DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department determines your property value. This responsibility is
managed by the Chief Appraiser, under the supervision of the Board of Tax Assessors.
3. Who appoints the Board of Tax Assessors?
The members of the Board of Tax Assessors are appointed by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
4. How can I contact the Board of Tax Assessors?
You can contact the Tax Assessors by telephone at (404) 371-0841 or by mail at:
DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department
120 West Trinity Place
Decatur, GA 30030-3304
If you contact the office by telephone, please remember that the Assessors are members of a part-time
citizens board, and may not be available. You may have to leave a message, but please rest assured that an
Assessor will return your call as soon as possible.
5. What control does the Board of Commissioners have over this office?
None, with the exception that 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 Tax 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 Tax Assessors?
10. What is the main duty of the Tax Commissioner in the ad valorem taxation process?
The main duty of the Tax Commissioner is to calculate your property tax bill and collect the property taxes.
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:
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
14. What are the steps used by the Assessors when appraising my property?
We use three approaches 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 approach - based on income produced by the property (such as rental 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 - 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 county budget by the total value of the tax digest.
20. Who sets these rates?
Millage rates are set by the school board, the county governing authority, and any other taxing authorities in
whose jurisdiction your property is located.
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 DeKalb County are
accepted between January 1st and April 1st of each year. Failure to file constitutes your waiver of the
exemption for that year. Please contact the Tax Commissioner's office at (404) 298-4000 to apply for
22. Are there any other special exemptions?
Yes. There are several special exemptions which are on file in the Tax Commissioner's office. You can also go
to our exemptions information page for additional information regarding special property exemptions
23. I own a business. Are there any exemptions I may qualify for?
Yes — the Freeport Exemption.
24. What is the Freeport Exemption?
This is a local exemption on business inventory that must be approved by the electorate of any county or
municipality. DeKalb County gives a 100% exemption on qualifying inventories.
25. Can a business file for a Freeport Exemption at any time?
No. You must file for this exemption between January 1 st and April 1 st, as provided for by law.
26. I missed my filing deadline for filing a Freeport Exemption request. Can I have an extension?
No extensions are granted but Freeport Applications may be filed as follows:
a. In order to receive 100% of eligible Freeport Exemption Inventory the application must be received in
our office prior to the April 1st filing deadline.
b. Taxpayers may continue to file the application after that date but will receive a reduced % based on
the filing dates. Applications filed between April 2 nd and April 30 th, 66.67%; May 1 st and May 31 st,
58.33%; and June 1 st 50%.
c. Failure to file by June 1 st shall constitute a waiver of the entire exemption for the year (0%).
27. What latitude does the Board have to extend deadlines for filing Freeport or Homestead
None. The law does not provide grace periods.
28. I disagree with my appraised value. Can I appeal?
Appeals can only be filed in response to an Annual Assessment Notice. When you receive your Notice you
will have 45 days from the Notice Date displayed on the form to file your appeal. Filing an appeal is easy.
There is no form - simply write a letter telling us that you are appealing, and if possible, explain why you
disagree with our value. You are welcome to attach additional information you wish us to consider. Please
include your Parcel ID Number, the street address of your property, and a daytime phone number. We cannot
accept fax or email appeals! Please be sure to hand deliver or mail your appeal POSTMARKED BY THE U.S.
POSTAL SERVICE by the appeal deadline date shown on your Annual Assessment Notice.
Additional information is available on our APPEAL PROCESS page
29. What are my responsibilities, obligations, and procedures for an appeal?
Appeals can only be filed in response to an Annual Assessment Notice generated by the Property Appraisal
Department. These Notices will be mailed in mid-May of each year. Once you receive your Notice you will
have 45 days from the Notice Date to file an appeal. If you do not file an appeal by this date your right to
appeal will be lost. Complete instructions for filing the appeal will be included with the Notice.
30. What kind of information can I provide to help the appeal process work better?
We invite you to provide sales transaction information, photographs of similar properties that have sold
recently, or any other information you want us to consider.
31. Isn't the objective of the Board of Tax Assessors to generate as much revenue as possible
by keeping the assessed values up?
No. Our objective is to appraise your property at its fair market value. 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 to ensure that our values are reflecting the fair market value. Failure to meet State
standards for accuracy can result in penalties for our office.
32. 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 fellow
property owners who are eligible to serve on a grand jury. There are no costs to you for using their services in
33. 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.
34. What are the costs for a Superior Court appeal?
A Superior Court appeal requires a $207.50 filing fee.
35. If I appeal my valuation, will the resulting decision be used in future years?
Under a recent State law, the Board of Tax Assessors cannot alter the result of the Board of Equalization or
Court for two years, without an on-site inspection of the property.
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