Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a
large source of revenue for local governments in Georgia.
The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of
the property which is established as of January 1 each year.
The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property
which, by law, is established at 40% of fair market value.
The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate)
levied by various entities (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each
$1,000 of assessed value or .001).
Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable
property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1st of
the tax year. In Jenkins County the time for filing returns is January 1
st through April 1st. These returns are filed with the Tax Assessor
and forms are available in that office. The tax return is a listing of the
property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s declaration of the
value of the property.
Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally determined for the preceding year and the taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur. A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Tax Assessors. This serves the purpose of establishing the taxpayer’s appeal rights if the declared value is changed again by the Board of Tax Assessors.
The Board of Tax Assessors is required to issue a notice of
assessment for taxable tangible real and personal property. Upon
receipt of this notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the
assessment may do so within 45 days. The appeal may be based on
taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. The
written appeal is filed initially with the Board of Tax Assessors. The
state of Georgia provides a uniform appeal form for use by property
owners. In that initial written dispute, the property owner must declare
their chosen method of appeal.
The three methods of appeal include:
Two general types of specialized or preferential assessment
programs are available for owners of certain types of
property. One of these programs authorizes assessment at
30% rather than 40% of fair market value for certain
agricultural properties being used for bona fide agricultural
The second type of preferential program is the Conservation Use program which provides that certain agricultural properties, timber 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.
48-5-7.7 GEORGIA FOREST LAND PROTECTION ACT OF 2008 provides for an ad valorem tax exemption for property primarily used for the good faith subsistence or commercial production of trees, timber, or other wood and wood fiber products and excludes the entire value of any residence located on the property. In addition, the property may have secondary uses such as the promotion, preservation, or management of wildlife habitat; carbon sequestration in accordance with the Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry; mitigation and conservation banking that results in restoration or conservation of wetlands and other natural resources; or the production of ecosystem products and services such as, but not limited to, clean air and water. This 10-year covenant agreement between the taxpayer and local board of assessors is limited to forest land tracts of more than 200 acres when owned by an individual or individuals or by any entity registered to do business in Georgia.
Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owners to covenant with the Board of Tax Assessors to maintain the property its qualified use for a specified number of years. The preferential program which authorizes assessment of the property at 30% instead of 40% and the Conservation Use Program both require 10 year covenants. The Forest Land Protection Act requires a 10 year covenant between the taxpayer and the county. In Jenkins County, an application for either of these programs must be filed with the Tax Assessors’ office between January 1st and April 1st. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for any of these programs.
Other land assessment programs are available. Please refer to the appropriate code sections shown for exemption amounts and qualifications:
Several types of homestead exemptions have been enacted
to reduce the burden of ad valorem taxation for Georgia
homeowners. The exemptions apply to homestead property
owned by the taxpayer and occupied as his or her legal
residence (some exceptions to this rule apply and your Tax
Commissioner can explain them to you).
To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption, the taxpayer must file an initial application. In Jenkins County, the application is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors. 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. Homestead exemptions are normally filed for at the same time that the initial tax return for the homesteaded property is filed.
Once granted, the homestead exemption is automatically renewed each year and the taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change of ownership, the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption, if your exemption is based on income, or if you move.
Under 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 Commissioner in your county can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
Jenkins County does not have such an exemption.
Age 65 and Older Exemption from State Ad Valorem Tax
If you qualify for one of the other homestead exemptions
listed and are age 65 or older as of January 1, you also
qualify for an exemption from the State portion of ad valorem
taxes in an amount equal to 100% of the value of your home
and up to 10 acres of land. The value of any additional land
or improvements on the same parcel will be granted the
standard maximum exemption of the homestead exemption
for which you otherwise qualify.
The Standard Homestead Exemption is available to all homeowners who otherwise qualify by ownership and residency requirements and it is an amount up to $2,000 which is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homesteaded property. The exemption applies to the maintenance and operation portion of the mill rate levy of the county and the county school system and the State mill rate levy. It does not apply to the portion of the mill rate levied to retire bonded indebtedness.
The Standard Elderly School Tax Homestead Exemption is an increased homestead exemption for homeowners who are 62 years of age by January 1st and the net income of the applicant and spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the preceding year (excluding social security and retirement income). The amount of the exemption is up to $10,000 and applies to school tax including taxes levied to retire bond indebtedness. The amount of the exemption is up to $10,000 deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property. (Application must be made each year.)
The Standard Elderly General Homestead Exemption is available to homeowners who otherwise qualify and who are 65 and older where the net income of the applicant and spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the preceding year. Social Security and certain retirement income are excluded from the calculation of the income threshold. This exemption, which is in an amount up to $4,000 deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property applies to county taxes, school taxes and the state tax and it does apply to taxes levied to retire bond indebtedness.
The Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption is available to certain disabled veterans in an amount up to $101,754. This exemption applies to all ad valorem tax levies, however, it is restricted to certain types of very serious disabilities and proof of disability, either from the Veterans Administration or from a private physician in certain circumstances. The unremarried surviving spouse or minor children of any such disabled veteran shall also be entitled to an exemption so long as the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children continue actually to occupy the homestead, or any subsequent homestead within the same county, as a residence and homestead.
The Un-remarried Surviving Spouse Exemption shall be granted in an amount up to $101,754 from all ad valorem taxes levied, if such person’s spouse, who as a member of the armed forces of the United States, was killed or died as a result of any war or armed conflict. Documents from the Secretary of Defense must be provided stating that spousal benefits are received as a result of the death.
The Un-remarried Surviving Spouse of a Fire Fighter or Peace Officer shall be granted total exemption from all ad valorem taxes levied, if such person’s spouse, who as a member of a qualified Fire Department or Peace Officer Agency, was killed or died as a result of injury in the performance of their duty. Documents from the agency must be provided.
The Floating or Varying Homestead Exemption is an exemption which is available to homeowners 62 or older with gross household incomes of $30,000 or less. The exemption applies to state and county ad valorem taxes but it does not apply to school tax. The exemption is called a floating exemption because the amount of the exemption increases as the value of the homestead property is increased. Since, however, the exemption replaces any other state and county exemption already in place for the property, taxpayers should be very careful in making application since, in many instances, the granting of this exemption will initially at least increase the amount of taxes levied on the property.
In addition to the various homestead exemptions that are authorized, the law also provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead property owners 62 and older with gross household income of $15,000 or less may defer but not exempt the payment of ad valorem taxes on a 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.
With respect to all of the homestead exemptions, the Board of Tax Assessors makes the final determination as to eligibility; however, if the application is denied the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure is then available for the taxpayer.
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.
48-5-41.2 All tangible personal property constituting the inventory of a business shall be exempt from state ad valorem taxation.
611 E Winthrope Ave.
Millen, GA 30442
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P.O. Box 646
Millen, GA 30442
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