In the first part of this short series I explained what the Georgia property taxes are based on, how the assessed value is determined and what a millage rate is. Today I'm going to discuss the homestead exemption and how to appeal tax assessments.
If you want to catch up on the first part, click the link: All About Georgia Property Taxes: Part 1
In Georgia, the most common exemption people apply for is the Homestead Exemption, which allows Georgia homeowners to receive a reduction in the tax assessed against their primary residence. This exemption and most other exemptions are not automatically given; instead, they require the homeowner to apply for them and the exemption then must be approved.
You may apply for this exemption if you have lived in your home since January 1st of the year in which the tax becomes due and it must be your primary residence. Also, you need to file for this exemption by April 1st or else you'll have to wait until the following year. Once you've been approved for this exemption though you don't have to file for it each year; the only time it would need to be filed again is if ownership of the home changed.
Other exemptions that are available are ones for disabled veterans, housholds that have an income of less than $30,000 annually, and to surviving spouses of firemen or policemen killed while on the job.
Appealing Tax Assessments:
The proper time to appeal a tax assessment is whenever the homeowner receives assessment notice in the mail; it will be marked "This is not a bill." A lot of homeowners will disregard it since it's not a bill, but as soon as you get it in the mail you'll want to go on your county's website and file a property tax return. The deadline for this in most counties is April 1st, but you'll want to check your country's website to be sure.
Once the property tax return is filed, the Board of Assessors will get the property re-appraised. If the Board accepts the lowered value, the assessed value will also be reduced and nothing is left for the homeowner to do. However, if they re-appraise it at a higher value, a new assessment notice will be mailed and the homeowner can then file an appeal.
A reassessment notice will show the previous year's value of the property, the current year's value and a statement saying the owner has 45 days to appeal the assessment. You must make your appeal in writing, to do so simply write a letter to the Board of Assessors. It's best to send this via certiifed mail. In the letter you need to include the property address, the tax identification number and state your reasons for the appeal.
After you've filed your appeal, you should follow it up with a more thorough detailed letter with your reasons to appeal. In addition, it's wise to arrange a meeting with the appraiser assigned to your property to discuss your appeal. However, the more non-confrontational you are with the appraiser, the more likely your meeting will go in your favor.
At the meeting with the appraiser, present your evidence for lowering the value of the home--this could be a settlement statement showing the purchase price of the property, comparable sales information or an appraisal. Other ways to prove your case are if portions of the property are in a flood zone, zoning restrictions or covenants that bring the property's value down.
The Board of Assessors will then make their decision, which must be in writing and will either be: 1. no change to the assessment, 2. a change in the assessment to the amount claimed by the owner and 3. an altogether separate change. If the Board chooses not to make any change to the assessment, they must write both the homeowner and the Board of Equilization stating their reasons for denial; the homeowner can then file an appeal with the Board of Equilization. If they make an altogether different decision, the owner may either accept it or file a written appeal within 21 days to the Board of Equilization.
I hope you've learned a lot more about Georgia property taxes and what it takes to file exemptions and appeals.
It's a great time to buy a home in Georgia, whether you're a first-time home buyer or not, and I would love to walk you through this process. If you are in the market to buy or sell your home in the Bethlehem or Dacula area, I would be happy to assist you! My passion is helping people find their dream home and stepping them through this exciting journey. I serve the Walton, Barrow and Gwinnett county areas. Call or text me today: 404.357.2231!