Fulton County continues to fight for approval of its 2017 tax digest.
Each year, each county submits its tax digest – a compilation of the county’s tax values – to the Department of Revenue for approval prior to sending out tax bills. Fulton County submitted its digest in October 2017, after canceling initial assessment notices and issuing corrected assessment notices during Summer 2017. The Commissioner of the Department of Revenue then rejected the digest, stating that the County had failed to comply with state law. Without digest approval, tax bills were delayed. Fulton County sought (and received) and temporary tax collection order from the Fulton County Superior Court, permitting the Tax Commissioner to send out tax bills in late 2017.
Following the temporary collection order, Fulton County resubmitted corrected materials to the Department of Revenue, but in January 2018, was informed that the Commissioner would still not approve the digest. In an effort to get approval, Fulton County has filed a mandamus action in Superior Court, a lawsuit requesting the Court to determine whether the digest submission complied with the law and to order the Commissioner to approve the digest.
Fulton County finds itself in uncharted territory. First, to the best of my knowledge, a county has never cancelled and issued new assessment notices, especially not on the scale done in Fulton County in 2017 (Fulton County issued new notices to all of its over 300,000 parcels). Second, digest rejections have typically been due to technical errors, and quickly corrected; a fight over legal issues is rare.
What if the Court declines to approve the digest? Fulton County could be required to revalue some or all of the properties for tax year 2017, resulting in new assessments, appeals, and tax bills.
I will continue to monitor the mandamus action in Fulton County and bring you any updates.