McDuffie County property owners should have a better idea of how much their homesteads are worth after property tax re-assessment notices were mailed out last week.
The 9,095 notices reached residents late last week and early this week.
While some notices reflected a decrease in value, most showed an increase, said Chief Appraiser Katherine Perry.
"Some years, some things are addressed more than others," Mrs. Perry said. "This year it's residential."
Property owners now have until July 29 to file a written appeal of the re-assessed value, according to officials in the McDuffie County Board of Assessors' office. Appeal forms can be obtained from the tax assessors' office, and must include the identification number found on the assessment notice.
"The appeal is the last check of our work," Mrs. Perry said. "It is the property owners responsibility to verify that we have our info correct. We make corrections when we make a justifiable error."
If property owners are unsure whether they have a "justifiable error," they can call Ramona Powell at 595-2128. Ms. Powell can answer common questions, or direct you to someone who can help.
"People don't like taxes, especially on their property," Mrs. Perry said. "Their property is a major investment to them. They feel threatened that we're trying to take it away from them. If they call, it will help them understand better."
This year, Mrs. Perry said the most calls they've received have been concerning the statement "owner personal property returned value not accepted for current year" printed on most notices.
"That simply means it just wasn't an exact dollar amount that matched," she said. "Next year, we will have an explanation for that phrase printed on the notice, to help alleviate confusion."
Some people also get confused by the notice itself. Mrs. Perry said "even though it is printed in large letters 'not a bill,' some people every year still mail a check to us."
She also said the notices reflect both the estimated fair market value and the assessed value of local properties. The assessed value is 40 percent of the fair market value, and the amount local governments use to calculate property taxes.
Overall, the county's total tax digest - the value of all taxable property in McDuffie County - increased 8 percent, after exemptions.
What you should know:
If you want to appeal your property values, you must do so in writing no later than July 29. Appeal forms may be obtained by visiting or calling the tax assessors' office. Appeals must be postmarked by 5 p.m. on July 25, or your right to file an appeal is lost.
Do not send money, the property tax assessment notice is simply a notice, not a bill.
For further information, visit the tax assessors' office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 406 Main Street.
Direct questions to Ramona Powell or Norma Wattkis at the assessors' office, 595-2128.
Information used to arrive at the fair market value is available at the assessors' office.