Georgia Property Taxes Explained


The information on this page is intended to proved some basic information on the treatment of real estate taxes, also known as ad valorem taxes, in Georgia. It is important for property owners to understand the tax and billing process since tax bills constitute a lien on the property on January 1st of each year.
To read some general information on Georgia property taxes–
To understand more about closing prorations–
To see a list of Georgia property tax exemptions, including the Homestead Exemption–
To learn about filing a Real Property Tax Return–
Please note that the information on this page provides basic information only on Georgia Ad Valorem Taxes and is not intended to be exhaustive. Properties in some jurisdictions are subject to additional taxes which may or may not be included in the respective county or city tax bill. Examples of these include sanitation taxes and water bills. Property owners or prospective purchases should make property specific inquiries with appropriate government officials to ascertain applicable taxes, or consult an attorney.




Closing Tip
Have questions on how taxes and other items are treated at closing?


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Questions? Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer
CHRIS PAHL
Attorney at Law
Georgia Title & Escrow Co LLC
3575 Piedmont Road
Building 15, Piedmont Center
Suite 120
Atlanta, GA 30305
678.448.4148 Telephone






General Information on Georgia Ad Valorem Taxes



Tax Year – Statewide Uniform
  • The Georgia real estate tax year runs on a calendar year basis (i.e. from January 1st through December 31st).
  • Taxes are assessed on a current year basis.
  • For example, a tax bill issued on July 1st of a given year would cover taxes for that specific year.  This means that a bill generated for 2013 covers the tax year for all of 2013 and not 2012 or 2014.
Timing of Tax Bills – Varies among Counties
  • There is no uniformity among the counties as to when a particular county will issue its tax bill.
  • Generally, tax bills are issued by the county tax commissioner in the fall of each year.  
  • Some counties issue bills payable in two installments. The due dates are specified in the tax bill and are typically evenly divided, payable in the Fall.
Example.
A tax bill issued on July 1st of a given year would cover taxes for that specific year.  For further clarification, a bill issued in the Fall of year 2020 would cover property taxes for all of 2020 and not for any of year 2019 or 2021.

County Tax Assessor
County Tax Assessors are responsible for appraising property.
  • Georgia Law requires that all real estate and tangible personal property be appraised annually at its fair market value.
  • Appraisal notices are sent to property owners in the Spring.

County Tax Commissioner
County Tax Commissioners are responsible for collecting real estate taxes.
  • County issued tax bills include Georgia State taxes (i.e. property owners in Georgia are not issued separate bills from the State).
  • Where applicable, City jurisdictions may issue separate tax bills, or they may be included in the County tax bill.



Questions? Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer
CHRIS PAHL
Attorney at Law
Georgia Title & Escrow Co LLC
3575 Piedmont Road
Building 15, Piedmont Center
Suite 120
Atlanta, GA 30305
678.448.4148 Telephone


Understanding Closing Prorations


You're closing in the middle of the year...
How are taxes treated at closing if the seller has already paid the tax bill? Or, what if the tax bill has already been paid? The purpose of calculating prorations is to ensure that both buyer and seller pay their fair share of the total tax bill. The following explains how taxes and other prorated items are treated at closing—



When a tax bill has not yet been issued...
In Georgia, tax bills are generally issued in the Fall of each year. So, closing in the Spring or Summer will generally mean that the buyer will be responsible for paying the actual bill when it is issued.
To avoid getting a freebee, the seller will prepay a prorata share of the taxes to the buyer at the time of closing. The prorata share will be based on the number of days between January 1st and the day of closing.  When the bill is issued, it will be the responsibility of the new owner to pay the entire year since at closing the buyer already received the seller's prorata share.
When a tax bill has been issued and paid...
Since tax bills in Georgia are generally issued in the Fall, a closing in the Fall or Winter may mean that the seller has already paid the tax bill for the entire year.
To avoid getting a freebee, the buyer will reimburse a prorata share to the seller at the time of closing. The prorata share will be based on the number of days between the day of closing and December 31st, since Georgia tax bills run on a calendar year.

In either case, each party only pays his fair share.



Questions? Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer
CHRIS PAHL
Attorney at Law
Georgia Title & Escrow Co LLC
3575 Piedmont Road
Building 15, Piedmont Center
Suite 120
Atlanta, GA 30305
678.448.4148 Telephone








Property Tax Exemptions


Property tax exemptions in the State of Georgia are offered at the State level and at the County level. The information below discusses the Homestead Exemption in general, since this exemption is perhaps the most widely used. It is important to note that County specific exemptions are generally better than their State counterparts and, in addition, there may be more or different exemptions than those at the State level. Therefore, individual County tax commissioner offices are the best source for comprehensive exemption information available.


Homestead Exemption
Generally, a homeowner is entitled to a homestead exemption on their home and land underneath provided the home was owned by the homeowner and was their legal residence as of January 1 of the taxable year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)

Criteria for Homestead Exemption
To be granted a homestead exemption, a person must actually occupy the home, and the home is considered their legal residence for all purposes.  Persons that are away from their home because of health reasons will not be denied homestead exemption.  A family member or friend can notify the tax receiver or tax commissioner and the homestead exemption will be granted. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)

WHERE the Homestead Exemption is Filed
Application for homestead exemption must be filed with the tax commissioner's office, or in some counties the tax assessor's office has been delegated to receive applications for homestead exemption. 

WHEN the Homestead Exemption is Filed
A homeowner can file an application for homestead exemption for their home and land any time during the calendar year. To receive the homestead exemption for the current tax year, the homeowner must have owned the property on January 1 and filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in the county. Property tax returns are required to be filed by April 1. Homestead applications that are filed after this date will not be granted until the next calendar year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)

Penalties for Failing to File
Failure to apply by the deadline will result in loss of the exemption for that year.  (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)

Questions? Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer
CHRIS PAHL
Attorney at Law
Georgia Title & Escrow Co LLC
3575 Piedmont Road
Building 15, Piedmont Center
Suite 120
Atlanta, GA 30305
678.448.4148 Telephone






Filing the Property Tax Return


The purpose of a Real Property Tax Return is to advise the county tax assessor's office of a change in value. Since each county is required to assess every parcel in its jurisdiction every year, filing a return is a proactive way to put the assessor on notice of a change in value. In the context of a property purchase, for example, if the sales prices is less than the county's appraised value, it may be helpful to file a return in the current year, since the assessor may not pick up on the recent sale until the following year.


HOW is Filing Used
Filing a Property Tax Return will–

  • Notify the county of a decrease in property value, for example, where a property has recently sold.
  • Notify the county of an increase in property value, for example, where the property is improved before the next county assessment.
  • Notify the county of a change of mailing address.
  • Notify the assessor of disputed value, before filing a tax appeal.

WHAT Form is Used
PT-50R

WHO Should File
Residents and non-residents that own real property in Georgia.

WHEN to File
Property tax returns are required to be filed by April 1. 

WHERE to File
The Tax Commissioner or the Tax Assessor in the county where the property is located. 

For More Information
Contact your local tax assessor or commissioner's office.


Questions? Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer
CHRIS PAHL
Attorney at Law
Georgia Title & Escrow Co LLC
3575 Piedmont Road
Building 15, Piedmont Center
Suite 120
Atlanta, GA 30305
678.448.4148 Telephone



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