Georgia's 2019 Property Tax Season Underway

Georgia property owners receive a property tax assessment notice each spring, notifying them of the assessment value of their property and an opportunity to appeal the valuation. The deadline for an appeal is 45 days after the assessment notice is issued and is printed on the top right of each notice. Because the deadline is different for each county (and can be different for properties within the county), it is crucial that property owners review their assessment notice promptly and consider whether an appeal is necessary.

Here’s an example of some of the questions that I am asked this time of year:

Property Owner: “My taxes increased by 30%! How do I appeal my taxes?”

Attorney Sorenson: You cannot appeal your taxes, but you can appeal the assessment value. Lowering the value will lower the taxes.

Property Owner: “My value went up 15%. Is that typical? Is there a cap for how much the value can increase?”

Attorney Sorenson: There is no typical increase. The Tax Assessors are responsible for determining the fair market value of each property - in other words, what the property would sell for on the open market. The amount of increase in the value may depend on the real estate market for your area. There is no cap on how much the value can increase annually.

Find more answers to property tax FAQs on my website, or call me at 404-507-6388 for a free 15 minute consult to discuss your property and options for an appeal.

Sine Die - 2019 Georgia Legislative Wrap-Up

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 Presents at ABA/IPT Advanced Tax Seminar

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.

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The ABA/IPT Advance Tax Seminars attract tax attorneys, consultants and CPAs from all over the country to discuss and examine issues affecting taxpayers.

New Homestead Exemptions in Fulton County & Atlanta

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 - $50,000 exemption for residents over age 65 from county taxes (increases the basic exemption from $30,000 to $50,000)

  • 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.

For more FULTON County Homestead exemption information and the Homestead exemption application, click here.

For DEKALB County Homestead exemption information and online application, click here.

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.