HOMEOWNERS TAX RELIEF GRANT
SPECIALIZED AND PREFERENTIAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS
Warning: Don't Lose Your Homestead!
Did you know that the recording of a deed which changes the ownership of your homestead property, in any manner, could cause you to lose the homestead exemption?
Well, IT CAN!
If you record a deed which changes the ownership of your Homestead property, in any manner (such as but not limited to: adding a name, removing a name, changing a last name, placing the property in a trust or life estate, etc…), you MAY need to re-apply for the Homestead exemption by April 1st of the current tax year. Even if you've always lived there and enjoyed the benefit of a Homestead exemption, you may still need to re-apply!
If you are changing the title / ownership of your Homestead and are unsure if you need to reapply, please call the Tax Assessor's office and discuss the specifics at (706) 485-6376.
If you are moving to a new property, your current homestead exemption is not transferrable. You must file for Homestead on the new property by April 1st to apply to the current tax year.
If you recently purchased a property, do not be fooled by seeing a Homestead exemption on your tax notice. You may have inherited the previous owner's exemption for the current tax year ONLY!
If the property is your permanent place of residence, the application must be filed for by April 1 to apply to the current tax year
Please call the Tax Assessor's office at (706) 485-6376 with any questions concerning homestead exemptions.
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 the applicant 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 Putnam County, the application is filed in the Tax Assessors Office. The application 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. 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 the property, moves to another location 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 Putnam County can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
The Local County Exemptions supersede the state exemption amount when the local exemption is greater than the state exemption.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FILING DATES
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
Each resident of Putnam County is entitled to an exemption on the property he owns and occupies as his permanent residence on January 1st of the taxable year. The exemption amount granted is $2,000 exemption from City and State taxes and $10,000 exemption from County and School taxes excluding bonded indebtedness. The $2,000 City and State exemption is deducted from the 40% assessed value and multiplied by the City and State portions of the mill rate to arrive at the amount of City/State taxes paid. The $10,000 County and School exemption is deducted from the 40% assessed value and multiplied by the County and School portions of the mill rate to arrive at the amount of County/School taxes paid. The value of the property in excess of the exempted amount is subject to all taxes. The applicant must have proof of residency (O.C.G.A 48-5-44)
Each resident in Putnam County is allowed a homestead ad valorem tax exemption to the extent their property exceeds the "adjusted base year value" of the property. The "base Year" is the taxable year immediately preceding the year this exemption is granted. This exemption is for the owner occupied primary residence and not more than 5 acres of land immediately surrounding such residence. The exemption does not include accessories. If the residence and/or land is revalued and the value increases by 3% or more, the "base Year" value should be adjusted by 3%. If the residence and or land value decreases, the "base year" value should decrease. The difference in this "base year" assessed value and the current year assessed value is the amount of the exemption. Among the exceptions to this exemption are additions or improvements made to the homestead after Jan. 1st of the base year. This exemption applies to both County and School ad valorem taxes. This homestead exemption applies to property located in Putnam County and is in addition to any other homestead ad valorem tax exemption.
- Senior Citizens
A senior citizen as a person who is 70 years of age or older on or before Jan. 1st or the year in which the application for the exemption is made. Each resident of Putnam County who is a senior citizen and makes application is granted an exemption equal to the difference of the current year assessed value and the base year assessed in which the exemption under this Act is first granted. This exemption is in addition to any other homestead exemption and does not apply to improvements or additions made to the homestead after Jan. 1st of the base year. It provides the same exemption for senior citizens ad valorem taxes for educational purposes. This exemption only applies to the permanent residence and up to 5.00 acres of land. They must furnish a copy of their Drivers License or proof of age.
In addition to the "Standard Homestead Exemption mentioned above, each senior citizen in Putnam County is allowed a homestead ad valorem tax exemption to the extent their property exceeds the "adjusted base year value" of the property. The "base Year" is the taxable year immediately preceding the year this exemption is granted. This exemption is for the owner occupied primary residence and not more than 5 acres of land immediately surrounding such residence. The exemption does not include accessories. If the residence and/or land is revalued and the value increases, the "base Year" value should not change. If the residence and or land value decreases, the "base year" value should decrease. The difference in this "base year" assessed value and the current year assessed value is the amount of the exemption. Among the exceptions to this exemption are additions or improvements made to the homestead after Jan. 1st of the base year. This exemption applies to both County and School ad valorem taxes. This homestead exemption applies to property located in Putnam County and is in addition to any other homestead ad valorem tax exemption.
- State Exemption
In addition to the "Standard Homestead Exemption" Individuals 65 Years of Age and older may claim a 100% exemption from all state ad valorem taxes on their home and up to 10 contiguous acres of land surrounding the home and $2,000 exemption on the balance of the value. Ad valorem tax for state purposes will be due on the assessed value of land that exceeds the 10 acre limitation and any other improvements. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-48.3)
- 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 cannot 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
The Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption is available to any qualifying disabled veteran or the un-remarried spouse or minor children in an amount up to $63,780 that is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property. This exemption applies to State, County, Municipal, and School tax purposes. The value of the property in excess of this exemption remains taxable. Applicants must be 100% totally disabled and furnish proof of disability either from the Veterans Administration or from a private physician. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48)
- Homestead Exemption for Un-remarried Surviving Spouse Of U.S.Service Member
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 $63,780. The surviving spouse must furnish appropriate documentation that spousal benefits are received because of the death of the armed forces member. 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.
- Homestead Exemption for Surviving Spouse of Peace Officer or Firefighter
The unremarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty will be granted a 100% homestead exemption for the full value of the homestead for as long as the applicant occupies the residence as a homestead. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-48.4)
- Property Tax Deferrals
Individuals that are 62 years of age or older and that are entitled to file homestead exemption may elect to have payment of their ad valorem taxes deferred. The taxpayer must file an annual application for tax deferral with the county tax commissioner or county tax collector on or before April 1 of the year for which the deferral is sought. Interest at the rate of three-fourths of one percent per month begins accruing on deferred taxes from the date the taxes are due in that year.
If the taxpayer meets the qualifications for tax deferral, they may choose one of two options:
If the home for which tax deferral is sought has an assessed value of $50,000 or more, the deferral will apply only to the taxes on the portion of the assessed value which is $50,000 or less, or
If the population in the county is 550,000 or more, taxes can be deferred on all or any part of that portion which exceeds 4 percent of the individual's gross household income for the immediately preceding calendar year.
- Requirements for Property Tax Deferral
Applicant must be at least 62 years old on January 1 of this year,
Applicant must be entitled to claim homestead exemption of the property for the current tax year,
The total amount of deferred taxes and interest plus the total amount of all other unsatisfied liens on the homestead cannot exceed 85% of the fair market value of the homestead as shown on the county tax digest for the immediately preceding tax year,
Gross household income cannot exceed $15,000 for the immediately preceding year,
Property cannot be subject to any lien the terms of which are dictated by federal law, rule, or regulation prohibiting deferral of taxes, and
Applicant must have fire and extended coverage insurance on the property in an amount which is in excess of the sum of all outstanding liens and deferred taxes and interest with a loss payable clause to the county tax collector or county tax commissioner. A copy of the insurance policy number, expiration date, and loss payable clause will be required upon application. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-70 - 48-5-84)
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.aspx
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- FILING PERIOD FOR ALL HOMESTEADS
You may apply for exemptions year-round; however, you must apply by April 1 to receive the exemption for that tax year. Any application received after this date will not be processed until the next tax year.
SPECIALIZED AND PREFERENTIAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS
Two general types of specialized or preferential assessment programs are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs authorizes assessment at 30% rather than 40% of the fair market value for certain agricultural properties being used for bona fide agricultural purposes.
The second type of preferential programs 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 penalties.
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 that 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 Covenant.
- 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 Assessors' office.
Rehabilitated and Landmark Historic Property
- Historic property that qualifies for listing on the Georgia or National Register of Historic Places may qualify for preferential assessment. The preferential assessment shall extend to the building or structure is located, and not more than two acres surrounding the building or structure. The real property receiving preferential assessment may not be changed for a period of nine years. Property under this special program must be certified by the Department of Natural Resources as rehabilitated historic property or landmark historic property.
- Property which qualifies for participation in the State's Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Program and which has been designated as such by the Environmental Protection Division and the Department of Natural Resources may qualify for preferential assessment. This special program provides for the preferential assessment of environmental and contaminated property by freezing the value for ten years as an incentive for developers to clean up the property and return it to the tax rolls. It also allows an eligible owner to recoup the eligible costs associated with the cleanup of this type property against their tax liability.
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 at: http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/cas/cuse/index.aspx
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Putnam County and the City of Eatonton voters have elected to exempt the following types of commercial and industrial inventory:
• Class 1 - Raw materials and goods in process of manufacture - 100% exemption
• Class 2 - Finished goods produced in Georgia within the last 12 months - 100% exemption
• Class 3 - Finished goods stored in Georgia within the last 12 months and destined for shipment out-of-state - 100% exemption
Freeport applications must be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors between January 1 - April 1 to receive the full exemption. You will receive a partial exemption is filed after the April 1 deadline. The amount of the exemption you will receive is as follows: April 2 - April 30 (66.67% of the full exemption), May 1 - May 31 (58.33%), June 1 (50%). Failure to file by June 1 shall constitute a waiver of the entire exemption for the year (0.0%).
- 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 of Georgia.
- 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.aspx
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