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My Tax Appeals Board hearing

A Column by the Editor
web posted May 10, 2007
COLUMN – Having very little that I can report on tonight due to the nature of the incidents that have occurred and suffering from severe back pain, I thought I would let my readers know how my hearing at the Edgefield County Tax Appeals Board went. I had a whole list of items ready to attack the assessment with; a recent appraisal, every receipt and check written to build the home, comparisons, and other information. Then, as I stood to testify, I through it all out the window.

I agreed the county can assess your property for taxation. They can tax the outside of your home only, nothing inside your home. I can have a run down old house with missing boards and shingles that to look at the house it would be considered a shack. Inside I can have marble floors, elaborate moldings, stained raised panel walls, huge plasma screen tv’s in every room, a sunken hot tub, high-end appliances and the like and the house can only be taxed as a run down old shack.

I could have the same old house with the same conditions inside as out and have  jewelry, gun, and coin collections worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the same high-end appliances, and the house would still tax the same. The assessor cannot come inside your home to “appraise” the contents.

Tax Assessor Lakeisha Bryant stated under oath that she assessed our home at “fair market value” for taxes. She justified her claim with a single ruling by one judge in one case that suited her purpose, being right. How cute.

The very real problem is that the “fair market value” would include all the contents on the inside of the home in order to reach the amount Ms. Bryant claims as taxable. What type of flooring, appliances, moldings, amenities, and the like are considered when appraising a home for sale or purchase, not for taxation.

That is the difference between an assessment and an appraisal.

In addition, Ms. Bryant also used for her comparisons, or “comps” houses that did not even remotely compare to our home for a basis of finding our value. One was located in Edgefield when we live in Merriwether.

All “comps” were brick houses with crawl spaces and we have vinyl siding on a slab. Some had barns, workshops, fenced pastures, and all had fully landscaped yards. Our yard is trees as we live in the woods about a quarter mile off the road. Even the Appeals Board agreed the “comps” supplied by Ms. Bryant were useless.

No decision was made at the hearing. I guess I will be getting a letter in the mail soon so I can move forward with my case.

As a caveat, I did inform the board that as I left for work on Wednesday morning I passed two employees of the Assessor’s Office on a nearby road. Something told me to turn around and go back. I went back to our home to check if they were going to our house. After driving down our private road I found no one there and left, stopping at the road to put up the chain across our road.

When I looked up, there were the two employees of the Assessor’s Office sitting in the road in the county car. They said they needed to take a picture of the house. (Mind you, two people to take one picture with one camera and she needs another employee in her office?) I informed them that they were not allowed to enter the property and that a picture of the home was already on file with Ms. Bryant. “She lost it,” one stated.

“Not my problem,” I replied. “Don’t you have an appeal today?” the other asked. “Yes,” I said. “Well, that’s why we need the picture,” he said. “I don’t need a picture,” was my reply. I stated that if Ms. Bryant wanted to gain access to our property she would have to follow the law and send me a letter requesting a date and time to enter with my permission.

Ms. Bryant suddenly found the 1999 photo just in time for the hearing.

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