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 Stephens County, the application is filed with the Tax Assessors Office. The homestead application is normally filed at the same time the initial tax return for the homestead property is filed.
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 Stephens 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.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FILING DATES ARE JANUARY 1st THROUGH APRIL 1st.
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 to the current tax year. You must still own and occupy the property as of January 1 to be eligible.
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 48-5-44)
Homeowners 65 Years of Age and Older May Claim a Senior Homestead Exemption
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim an additional local exemption from state, county and school ad valorem taxes.
Homeowners 65 Years of Age and Older May Claim an additional Senior Homestead Exemption related to Limited Income
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim an additional local exemption from state, county and school ad valorem taxes if the net income of that person and their 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 their spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit for 2014 is $63,408. The owner must notify the tax assessor's office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47)
Homeownerss 62 Years of Age and Older May Claim Homestead Exemption related to Limited Income Individuals 62 years of age or over that are residents of each independent school district may claim an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire school bond indebtedness if the net income of that person and their 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 their spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit for 2014 is $63,408. The owner must notify the tax assessor's 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 Exemption
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. 48-5-47.1)
Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veterans
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)
In addition to the various homestead exemptions that are authorized, the law provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead property owners 62 and older with a gross income of $15,000 or less may defer but not exempt the payment of ad valorem taxes on part or all of the homestead property. Generally, the tax would be deferred until the property ownership changes or until such time that the deferred taxes plus interest reach a level equal to 85% of the fair market value of the property.
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.