PREFERENTIAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS
Several types of homestead exemptions have been enacted to reduce the burden
of ad valorem taxation for Georgia
homeowners. These exemptions apply to homestead property owned by and taxpayer
and occupied as his or her legal residence (some exceptions to this rule apply
and your tax assessors office can explain them to you).
To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption, the taxpayer must file an
initial application. In Gilmer
County, the application
is filed with the Assessors Office. You can apply for exemptions year-round,
however you must apply by April 1 to receive the exemption for that tax year.
Applications not filed by the deadline constitute a waiver of the exemption for
that year. Your closing attorney does not apply for you.
Once granted, the homestead exemption is automatically renewed each year.
The taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change in ownership
of property or the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption.
Under the authority of the State Constitution, several different types of
homestead exemptions are provided. In addition, local governments are
authorized to provide for increased exemption amounts and several have done so.
The tax assessors office in Gilmer County
can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local
exemptions that are in place.
The Local County Exemptions supercede the state
exemption amount when the local exemption is greater than the state exemption.
Effective June 1, 2005 homestead exemptions may be filed for any time during the year. However, exemptions must be filed for by April 1 to apply for the current tax year. You must still own and occupy the property as of January 1 to be eligible. Applications must be filed in person along with a valid Georgia drivers license at the Gilmer Co. Assessors Office. Applicants applying for income based exemptions must also submit proof of income.
- Standard Homestead Exemption
The Home of each resident of Georgia that is actually occupied and used as
the primary residence by the owner may be granted a $2,000 exemption from
state, county and school taxes except for school taxes levied by
municipalities and except to pay interest on and to retire bonded indebtedness.
The $2,000 is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead. The
owner of a dwelling house of a farm that is granted homestead exemption
may also claim a homestead exemption in participation with the program of
rural housing under contract with the local housing authority. (O.C.G.A
- Individuals 65 Years of Age
and Older May Claim a $4,000 Exemption
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim a $4,000 exemption from all
state and county ad valorem taxes if the income of that person and his
spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement
sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum
amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the
federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit for 2005
is $46,536. The owner must notify the tax assessors
office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this
exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47)
- Individuals 62 Years of Age
and Older May Claim an Individuals 62 years of age or over that are
residents of each independent school district may claim an additional
exemption from all ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire
school bond indebtedness if the income of that person and his spouse does
not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources,
pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount
allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal
Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit for 2005 is
$46,536. The owner must notify the tax assessors
office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this
exemption. This exemption may not exceed $10,000 of the homestead's
assessed value. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52)
- Floating Inflation-Proof
Individuals 62 Years of age or over may obtain a floating inflation-proof
state and county homestead exemption, except for taxes to pay interest on
and to retire bonded indebtedness, based on natural increases in the
homestead's value. If the appraised value of the home has increased by
more than $10,000, the owner may benefit from this exemption. Income,
together with spouse or any other person residing in the house, can not exceed $30,000. This exemption does not
affect any municipal or educational taxes and is meant to be used in the
place of any other state and county homestead exemption. (O.C.G.A.
- Homestead Exemption for
Any qualifying disabled veteran may be granted an exemption of $50,000
from paying property taxes for state, county, municipal, and school
purposes. The value of the property in excess of this exemption remains
taxable. This exemption is extended to the unremarried
surviving spouse or minor children. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48)
- Homestead Exemption for Unremarried Surviving Spouse
The surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in any
war or armed conflict will be granted a homestead exemption from all ad
valorem taxes for state, county, municipal and school purposes in the
amount of $50,000. The surviving spouse will continue to be eligible for
the exemption as long as they do not remarry. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52.1)
- School Tax Exemption for
individuals 65 or older Any
individual 65 and older may qualify for a school tax exemption. You must
file for the exemption prior to April 1st to receive the
exemption for the current tax year.
With respect to all of the homestead exemptions, the board of tax assessors
makes the final determination as to eligibility. If the homestead application
is denied, the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure then is
available to the taxpayer. For more information: http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/adm/taxguide/exempt/homestead.shtml
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HOMEOWNERS TAX RELIEF GRANT
The Homeowners Tax Relief Grant
was authorized for the first time by the Governor and the General Assembly in
1999. In any year the General Assembly may appropriate funds for a tax relief
credit and shall specify the eligible assessed value of each qualified
homestead receiving one of the normal homestead exemptions. This tax relief is
shown on the property tax bill as a credit against taxes that otherwise would
have been due.
Tax Commissioner Note:
This grant will be solely from the legislature each year and is dependent upon
future state funds being available. Should state funds not be available to
grant this credit, your taxes will increase as the county and the county school
system is reimbursed each year from the state by the amount of the credits
granted on your tax bill. If state funds should not be
available for disbursement, your tax bill will increase with no fault of the
Tax Commissioner, the county or county school system. For more information: http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/cds/htrc/plan.shtml
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The Governorís Homestead Tax Relief Grant was not
funded by the State legislature for 2009. This will result in an increase in
your 2009 tax bill.
SPECIALIZED AND PREFERENTIAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS
Two general types of specialized of preferential assessment programs are
available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these
programs authorizes assessment at 30% instead of 40% of the fair market value
for certain agricultural properties being used for bona fide agricultural
The second type of preferential program is the Conservation Use program
which provides that certain agricultural property, timber and land property,
environmentally sensitive property, or residential transitional property is to
be valued and assessed for ad valorem tax purposes at its current use value
rather than its fair market value. For more information on Conservation Use we
have included the following Information.
WHAT IS CONSERVATION USE?
Conservation Use was approved by an overwhelming majority of Georgia
voters in an effort to encourage agricultural landowners to keep their land in
production in exchange for favorable tax treatment. This favorable tax
treatment is designed to protect these property owners from being pressured by
the property tax burden to convert their land from agricultural use to
residential or commercial use, hence the name ''conservation use'' assessment.
In return for the favorable tax treatment the property owner must keep the land
undeveloped in a qualifying use for a period of ten years on incur stiff
Applications for current use assessment must be filed with the county board
of tax assessors on or before the last day for filing ad valorem tax returns in
the county (April 1). A $12.00 recording fee must accompany all applications.
- Owner must be an individual or family farm
corporation, estate, trust or non-profit organization.
- Owner agrees to maintain the property in a
qualifying use of ''good faith'' production of agricultural products or
timber for 10 years.
- Owner cannot have over 2,000 acres statewide
in the Conservation Use Program.
- The Tax Assessors Office may request
additional information regarding the use of the property if the office
feels it is necessary to determine if the property qualifies for the
exemption. Information that may be requested is Schedule F (Profit or Loss
from Farm Income), Form 4562 Depreciation, or Crop Production Records the
owner maintains. (mandatory on tracts less than 10 acres)
CONSERVATION USE VALUES
- Conservation values are set by the State of Georgia
and cannot be appealed by the taxpayer, however
the Board of Tax Assessors must still maintain the fair market value on
the property which may still be appealed by the taxpayer.
- The Conservation values established by the
state are made up of a combination of the capitalized income that could be
produced from the land and market value. The ratio is 65% income and 35%
fair market value.
- The maximum amount that conservation values
may be increased is 3% per year or a maximum of 34.39% over the 10-year
- The amount of savings on your tax bill cannot
be determined at this time. The valuation for conservation use is available
on your property upon request. You then can compare the fair market value
to the conservation use value.
- Agricultural buildings may be included in the
covenant. Although, the current values will not change on the buildings,
these buildings would be subject only to the 3% per year maximum increase.
BREACH ON CONTRACT
- If the owner breaks the Covenant a penalty of
twice the taxes saved by the taxpayer will be imposed and interest at the
rate of 1% per month will be assessed if not immediately reported.
- If the Covenant is broken as a result of death
or eminent domain (condemnation) no penalty will be assessed.
- If the Covenant is broken as a result of
medically demonstrable illness or foreclosure, the penalty will be the
amount of taxes saved for the current year only.
- Leases or contracts for billboard signs,
cellular towers, or any type of non-qualifying use will breach the
Covenant and all penalties will apply. Hunting leases are allowed.
- If the property is sold, and if the purchaser
continues using the property as it was originally covenanted then no
penalty would be assessed. Purchaser must sign covenant agreeing to no
change in use. However, the taxpayer should be aware that if the use
changes during the 10-year period all penalties would apply.
- If the owner desires to omit a portion of a
tract from the Covenant they must present to the Assessors' satisfaction a
clearly defined description of the portion under the Covenant and a
clearly defined description of the portion not under the Covenant.
- The property owner may give up to 5.0 acres to
a relative within the 4th degree of civil reckoning provided that relative
builds a house on the property received within one year and resides in the
house for the remainder of the 10-year period.
- Property is allowed to lie fallow or idle for
up to 2 years within any 5-year period.
- Property owners over age 65 who renew their
Covenant may elect after 3 years into the second 10-year Covenant to
terminate the Covenant by filing in writing a declaration with the Tax
Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property
owner to covenant with the board of tax assessors to maintain the property in
its qualified use for at least 10 years in order to qualify for the preference.
The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions
regarding property qualifying for either of these programs. Substantial
penalties result if the covenant is broken. Additional information is available
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The governing authority of any county or municipality may, subject to the
approval of the electors of such political subdivision, except from ad valorem
taxation, including all such taxes levied for educational purposes and for
State purposes, all or any of the following types of tangible property.
Application for this exemption must be made each year by April 1 in order to
receive the maximum exemption on qualifying Inventory.
- Inventory of goods in the process of
manufacture or production, which shall include all partly finished goods
and raw materials, held for direct use or consumption in the ordinary
course of the taxpayer's manufacturing or production business in the State
- Inventory of finished goods manufactured or
produced within the State of Georgia in the ordinary course
of the taxpayer's manufacturing or production business when held by the
original manufacturer or producer of such finished goods. The exemption
provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months
from the date such property is produced or manufactured.
- Inventory of finished goods which, on the
first day of January, are stored in a warehouse, dock or wharf, whether
public or private, and which are destined for shipment to a final
destination outside the State of Georgia and inventory of finished goods
which are shipped into the State of Georgia from outside the State and
stored for transshipment to a final destination outside this State. The
exemption provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve
(12) months from the date such property is stored in this State.
For further details on Freeport
exemption, read O.C.G.A. 48-5-48.2 in its entirety or contact the Tax Assessors
office. Also use the following link: http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/adm/taxguide/exempt/freeport.shtml
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