Commercial properties undervalued, homeowners make up difference
ATLANTA — People across Fulton County are digging deep into their pockets this year to pay skyrocketing property taxes. As they do so, hundreds of commercial properties are getting major tax breaks and leaving homeowners on the hook for the deficit.
“We’re looking at hundreds of millions of dollars that we should be bringing in,” former Invest Atlanta board member Julian Bene said when referring to the loss in property tax revenue. It’s resulted in commercial properties not being assessed at their full value.
“This one, 1725 Ponce, it sold for $300 million couple years ago and it’s still appraised at just over $100 million. That $200 million gap means they’re saving $3 million a year in taxes,” said Bene.
In addition to being under appraised, Bene said many of the trophy properties are also getting additional tax incentives — which is further decreasing the property taxes, but that’s not all.
“And then, they get a brownfield tax credit and so, their taxes last year and the year before was just $4,000, which is less than most of your viewers are paying in property taxes for their home,” said Bene.
Bene’s said he’s be researching the issue for years and estimates that there are more than 300 similar undervalued commercial properties in Fulton County.
Former Fulton County commissioner Lee Morris said the undervalue throughout the county has to be hundreds of millions of dollars. He said part of the problem is the commercial properties’ owners have the resources to appeal their assessed value; at times they go to court and win.
“Residential property owners have to make up that difference because that revenue is a number that gets set based on the needs of the county,” said Morris.
Morris was recently appointed to the Board of Assessor’s Office and said they will likely look into the matter in the near future. However, he said one of the solutions to the problem is for the county to invest in more resources so that they are prepared when commercial property taxes are appealed.