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It’s Tax Season – Don’t Forget Your Homestead Exemption!

March 6, 2018

Homestead exemption applications are due by April 1 to receive credit for this tax year. Contact your local county or city government for more information.

It’s that time of year when we’re either dreading finding out what we owe in taxes or anxiously awaiting our tax refund. No matter which situation you fall under, we can all agree that we’re always looking for ways to save on tax dollars.

Whether you’re able to claim multiple dependents, write off donations made to charity, or claim business expenses, it’s important to make sure every dollar counts.

But, there is one exemption that is often forgotten or unknown to many Georgia residents and that is the property tax exemption, also known as a homestead exemption.

Property Taxes

Before we can talk about homestead exemptions we first need to understand property taxes.

Property tax is an ad valorem tax, meaning it’s a tax based on the value of the property and the land you own. All types of property are taxable unless excused by law. Property tax is appraised by local government and the money is used to repair local roads, build schools, and provide local services.

Homestead Exemption

As a homeowner, a homestead exemption gives you tax breaks on what you pay for in property taxes. Depending on the value of your property, a homestead exemption will legally excuse you from a certain amount of taxes that you owe on your property which can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.

There’s a lot of murky information out there about homestead exemption because you must file with the county or city where your purchased home is located, and each county has different applications and required documents.

But, you must meet a couple criteria before you are eligible:

  • You must occupy the home
  • The home must be your legal residence

Once you file a homestead application for your primary residence, you cannot file homestead exemption for any other property in Georgia or any other state.

Although the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) states that you must file homestead exemption with your county tax commissioner or county board of tax assessors, some Georgia cities require you file with them if you live in city limits.

Deadline to File: April 1

To be eligible for homestead exemption for the current tax year, you must have:

  • Owned your home on January 1

  • Filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in your city or county.

You must file a homestead application by April 1 to receive credit for the current year. Applications filed after April 1 will be granted in the following tax year.

Some cities and counties in Georgia will automatically file a homestead application for you while other cities and counties require that you file on your own behalf. It’s important to check with your local city or county to determine if you’re responsible for filing a homestead application.

What You Need to File

You’ll need to check with your county tax commissioner, county board of tax assessors, or city government to find out exactly what you need to submit your homestead application.

There are several documents you will need to have no matter where you file:

  • Homeowner’s name

  • Property address

  • Property’s parcel ID

  • State-issued ID

  • Copy of your vehicle registration showing residency in that county / city

Additional Types of Homestead Exemptions in Georgia

The State of Georgia offers several types of homestead exemptions besides the standard exemption. You can read more about the additional exemptions listed below from Georgia’s DOR website.

  • Individuals 65 and older can claim a $4,000 exemption

  • Individuals 62 and older can claim additional exemption for educational purposes

  • Floating inflation-proof exemption

  • Disabled veteran or surviving spouse

  • Surviving spouse of U.S. service member

  • Surviving spouse of peace officer or firefighter

County Exemptions

In addition to the standard state exemption, some Georgia counties have elected to increase the amount of homestead exemption amount by passing local legislation. Usually, county exemptions are more beneficial than state exemptions.

Homestead Valuation Freeze Exemption

A number of counties in Georgia offer a Homestead Valuation Freeze Exemption that will freeze the value of your property for as long as you live there.

The value of your property will be determined by the base year valuation, or the assigned value of your property the year you made the purchase. So, even as your property value increases, you will only pay taxes on the base year valuation of the year you purchased the property.

Some counties might allow for the base year value to increase by a certain percentage every year. Find out if your county is one that offers a homestead valuation freeze exemption.

Owning a home is expensive and a lot of work, and filing taxes is a tedious, and often anxiety-ridden, job. Make sure you get the most out of both by saving money on property taxes this year!

Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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