2014 Georgia Code
§ 48-5-310 - Temporary collection of taxes pending approval or appeal of disapproval of digest

GA Code § 48-5-310 (2014) What's This?

(a) The governing authority of a county whose digest has not been approved by the commissioner may petition the superior court of the county for an order authorizing the immediate and temporary collection of taxes when:

(1) (A) An appeal is or has been filed as provided by law to prevent the approval of the digest by the commissioner;

(B) The digest has not otherwise been approved by the commissioner; or

(C) The digest is otherwise not enforceable or collectable by law; and

(2) The appeal, disapproval, or disability prohibits or prevents collections from being made or enforced on the digest.

(b) (1) The petition filed by the governing authority shall be styled "In the Matter of the (year) Tax Digest for (name of county) County." In the petition, the governing authority of the county shall assert that unless the court authorizes the immediate, temporary collection of the taxes the county authority will not be able to either:

(A) Pay the county's debts as they mature;

(B) Pay appropriate salaries of employees, other government officials, and other persons entitled to receive either compensation by or funds from the county as provided by law;

(C) Maintain an orderly and normal function of county business and governmental affairs;

(D) Maintain an adequate, proper, or desirable credit rating either to maintain or affect existing or future interest rates on bonded indebtedness or indebtedness on loans incurred or obligated by the county governing authority; or

(E) Avoid by practical means the suffering of immediate and irreparable injury, loss, damage, or any other significant matter.

(2) The petition shall further identify the last year in which the county had an approved tax digest as provided in this title and shall state the particular year for which the tax collections are sought.

(c) After the filing of the petition, a judge of the superior court in which the petition was filed shall set a time and date for a hearing on the petition. The hearing shall be held not less than ten days from the date of the filing of the petition. The court shall direct that the county governing authority have the petition published at least once prior to the hearing in the official newspaper of the county for publication of official notices. The court shall further order that the governing authority post a copy of the petition in a prominent place in the courthouse. No hearing shall be held on the petition until the petition has been so published and posted.

(d) After the petition has been filed and before the hearing, each interested party may intervene for the purpose of opposing the issuance of an order allowing the immediate and temporary collection of taxes.

(e) At the hearing on the petition, the governing authority shall bear the burden of proof of establishing the existence of one or more of the conditions set forth in subsection (b) of this Code section. The court may not issue an order allowing the temporary collection of taxes unless it finds that the evidence adduced at the hearing preponderates in favor of a finding that one of the conditions referred to in subsection (b) of this Code section exists. If the court so determines, the court shall enter an order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law to that end and shall order the temporary collection of taxes as sought by the county governing authority.

(f) In the court's order, the court shall establish the basis on which the temporary tax on each parcel of property shall be established and the manner in which the taxes shall be billed, collected, and otherwise received. The basis upon which the temporary taxes may be collected shall be one of the following:

(1) Any tax digest for the tax year in question which has been submitted to the commissioner but which has been rejected or is otherwise unenforceable;

(2) The most recently submitted and approved tax digest as amended to reflect changes in ownership of property; or

(3) Any other reasonable method which will do substantial justice to the parties under the exigencies of all the circumstances.

(g) Any taxes collected or paid after the entry of the order for collection as provided for in this Code section shall not be considered as, and shall not be deemed to be, voluntary payments. Collection or payment of such taxes after the entry of an order by the court as provided in this Code section shall not in any manner affect or limit anyone who pays the taxes from receiving and enjoying the full benefits of any adjustments, benefits, refunds, or additional assessments determined by the final disposition of the validity of the tax digest.

(h) The temporary collection of taxes on the basis ordered by the superior court shall proceed and shall be of full force and effect exactly as if the tax digest used as the basis for the court's order had been approved by the commissioner or otherwise approved or in force as provided by law, except as may be modified by court order. The court shall retain jurisdiction to issue any appropriate order necessary to enforce the court's order allowing the temporary collection of taxes.

(i) (1) Any governing authority filing a petition seeking an order allowing the temporary collection of taxes shall serve the commissioner with a copy of the petition.

(2) The commissioner may not be joined in an action seeking the temporary collection of taxes without the commissioner's specific consent.

(j) The procedures provided by this Code section shall apply to the tax digest of any municipality using as a basis for municipal tax purposes the fair market value determined for county ad valorem tax purposes. For the purposes of this subsection, the provisions of this Code section applicable to the governing authority of a county shall also be applicable to the governing authority of any such municipality, and the methods, procedures, and conditions for temporary collection and enforcement of taxes for municipalities shall be under the same terms and conditions as provided for counties in this Code section.

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