Georgia’s legislative session wrapped up on April 2, 2019. Only a few property tax bills made it through the 2019 session. Below is a summary of the significant property tax measures that are heading for Governor Kemp’s desk:
HB 183: This bill provides that a taxpayer’s failure to file a real property return does not affect a taxpayer’s right to appeal the assessment value of that property.
HB 405: The Freeport exemption exempts qualified goods held in inventory during the process of manufacturing. This bill expands the Freeport exemption to goods held by affiliates of the manufacturer/taxpayer and to inventory in the process of remanufacture (including the repair or modification of goods produced by the taxpayer)
HB 507: This bill changes language as it relates to the tax assessors application of the income approach to valuation by replacing ‘the income approach “shall be utilized” with “shall be considered.”
SB 216: This bill permits taxpayers to prepay annual property taxes when there is an agreement and resolution by the local governing authority and tax commissioner allowing prepayment.
Attorney Sara Sorenson participated on a panel of attorneys from around the country in discussing Trends and Updates in Property Tax Law at the annual American Bar Association/Institute of Professionals in Tax Advanced Property Tax Seminar, held in New Orleans on March 13-15, 2019.
The ABA/IPT Advance Tax Seminars attract tax attorneys, consultants and CPAs from all over the country to discuss and examine issues affecting taxpayers.
On November 6, 2018, voters approved several new Homestead exemptions. These are available to homeowners on their primary residence only (not available for second homes, rental properties, etc):
Fulton county taxes - new $50,000 exemption for residents over age 65 from county taxes
Fulton school taxes - new floating exemption capping the increase of value on school taxes at no more than 3% annually
Atlanta city taxes - new floating exemption capping the increase of value on municipal taxes at no more than 2.6% annually
Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell & Mountain Park city taxes: new floating exemption capping the increase of value on city taxes at no more than 3% annually
City of Atlanta residents will also benefit from an increase in the existing school exemption from $30,000 to $50,000.
Most homeowners do NOT need to file new Homestead Exemption applications:
Fulton County residents: Fulton County and the cities of Atlanta, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell & Mountain Park will automatically apply the new floating exemptions to your property IF you have an existing Homestead exemption.
Homeowners in all other GA counties: once granted, most Homestead exemptions renew automatically each year while you own your home.
File a Homestead Exemption application if:
New homeowners or homeowners who do not have a Homestead exemption on their primary residence (this applies to property owners in all Georgia counties!)
Fulton County residents over age 65 (as of 1/1/19): The new $50,000 exemption will be automatically applied only for residents who already have another 65 and over exemption. If you do not have an age 65 exemption, you must file an application by April 1.
DeKalb County/City of Atlanta: As of this post, DeKalb has not finalized their guidance on the implementation of the new Atlanta floating exemption. Out of an abundance of caution, DeKalb Co. homeowners within the City of Atlanta should file for the new floating exemption by April 1 (unless guidance is published by the County to the contrary). ***Update*** 2-11-19 - DeKalb has sent letters to affected homeowners notifying them that the exemption will be automatically applied. If you did not receive a letter, contact the DeKalb Tax Commissioner’s office.
These new exemptions will exempt part of your home’s value from taxation, or cap the amount the tax increase each year. The exemptions DO NOT limit or restrict how the tax assessors value your property. An appeal of your assessment value remains an important way to challenge and reduce your annual property tax burden.
A judge has ordered the Georgia Department of Revenue to approve Fulton County’s 2017 digest values. The decision comes after tension over the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors’ decision to cancel higher residential assessment values in 2017 and reissue notices at the 2016 values.
For Fulton County taxpayers, this means the lower 2017 values will stand and no new tax bills for 2017 will be issued.
**UPDATE** 1/16/2019 - The Department of Revenue has appealed the Superior Court’s decision to the Court of Appeals. Read more here: AJC Article, “As 300,000 Fulton property owners wait, state appeals in tax fight”