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By Fred S. Steingold from Nolo
You probably love your Georgia home, but getting your annual property tax bill is not so peachy. Of course, you want to make sure that you’re not overpaying. How can you reduce your property tax burden? There are two main ways.
The first method is available to all Georgia homeowners. The second depends on whether you meet certain qualifications. If you do, you can seek tax relief using both methods.
Method #1 – Appeal the Taxable Value of Your Home
You may know that the Georgia tax authorities compute your property tax by multiplying your home’s taxable value by the tax rate.
Example: David and Patricia own a home in Georgia. The assessor has placed a taxable value of $200,000 on the home. If the tax rate is 1%, David and Patricia will owe $2,000 in property tax. However, they appeal the $200,000 taxable value. The appeals board reduces that value to $150,000. Now, the Patricia and David owe only $1,500 in property tax on their Georgia home.
If you believe that the tax assessor has misjudged the value of your home, or if the taxable value is higher than that of similar homes, you might want to pursue an appeal.
Method #2 –Get All the Tax Breaks You’re Entitled To
Georgia law allows for reduced property taxes if you meet certain requirements. Here’s a summary of the chief programs in Georgia.
Homestead exemption. There is no property tax on the first $2,000 of your Georgia home’s value, and you may qualify for up to an additional $18,000 of exempt value as a homeowner’s incentive adjustment. If you’re 65 years old or older and the annual Georgia income of you and your spouse doesn’t exceed $10,000, the basic homestead exemption can increase to $4,000 from the normal $2,000 exemption. These homestead exemptions apply to county and school taxes. The Georgia legislature has authorized many municipalities to grant local exemptions for local taxes.
Line-of-duty exemption. Were you married to a peace officer or firefighter who was killed in the line of duty? If so, and if you haven’t remarried, your Georgia home is 100% exempt from any property tax.
Senior citizens. If you’re 62 years old or older, and your annual family income is $10,000 or less, up to $10,000 of your Georgia home’s value may be exempt from school tax. And if you’re 62 years or older and your family income doesn’t exceed $30,000 a part of your home may be exempt from county tax. The amount of the exemption depends on how much this year’s assessed value exceeds last year’s.
Veterans. A disabled veteran or the unmarried surviving spouse of such a veteran qualifies for a substantial Georgia property tax exemption based a complex set of rules. A similar exemption is available to the unmarried surviving spouse of a U.S. armed forces member who died in a war or conflict involving the U.S. military.
Although Georgia laws set statewide property tax rules, your local government handles the administration and levying of the tax. Contact your local tax assessor for complete details on property tax exemptions. Be sure to ask about any forms you need to complete and the deadline for filing those forms.
In addition to the property tax, which is based on the assessed value of your home, your tax bill may include special assessments. Typically these assessments are made to pay for neighborhood improvements, such as street paving or repaving.
Depending on the complexity of your situation, you may want to seek legal help to reduce your Georgia property tax.