As we near the end of the year, we draw closer to another tax season. If you are a homeowner in the State of Georgia, you are likely very familiar with the season of property assessments and taxation. However, you may not know as much about your homestead exemption. In the State of Georgia, there are special benefits conferred to properties that qualify as homesteads. We have written extensively about the Georgia Homestead Exemption here, but we wanted to provide a reminder for all Georgia homeowners before the end of the year.

How Do I Qualify for the Georgia Property Tax Homestead Exemption?

You qualify for the Georgia Property Tax Homestead Exemption if

  • You are a homeowner in the state of Georgia
  • Your Georgia home is your legal residence on January 1 of the taxable year (the only exception to this is if you have to be away from home during the year for health reasons)
  • You do not already have a homestead exemption for another Georgia property, or for a property in any other state

If all of the above criteria are met, you are likely eligible for a homestead exemption on your property taxes.

What are the Main Homestead Exemptions Available to Me?

The Georgia Homestead exemption is meant to help ease the burden of property taxes, and there are a number of versions of this exemption designed for Georgia residents in different circumstances. Each county also has slightly different homestead exemptions, so it is worth reaching out to your county Board of Assessors or Tax Commissioner to learn more about your options. However, in general, the State of Georgia provides certain minimum homestead exemption benefits, including the following:

Standard Homestead Exemption:

Each Georgia home that is occupied and used as the primary residence of the owner may be granted a $2,000 deduction from 40% of the fair market value of the home.

65 Years of Age or Older:

Homeowners 65 years of age or older may claim a $4,000 exemption from all county if the household income does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year (retirement from retirement sources, pensions, disability is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual under the federal SSA. In 2018, this is $66,912).

Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse:

Qualifying disabled veterans may be granted an exemption of $60,000 plus an additional sum from paying property taxes for county, municipal, and school purposes. The additional sum is set by the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In 2018, it’s $81,080. The value of the property in excess of this amount remains taxable. This exemption is extended to the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children as long as they continue to occupy the home.

What Do I Need to Do if I Have Applied for and Received the Homestead Exemption in the Past?

If you have applied for, and received, a homestead exemption in the past, you may not need to apply again. Homeowners only need to apply for the homestead exemption once, and then it continues to apply as long as

  • There is no change in ownership
  • You have not made any changes to the deed (including changes in name and spelling)
  • You do not wish to apply for a different homestead exemption

If any of the above circumstances do apply, you will need to submit a new application, applying for the homestead exemption again.

How Do I Apply for a New Homestead Exemption?

As you likely know, property tax returns are due each year by April 1st. To apply for a homestead exemption, applications must also be submitted by that date. Late submissions received after April 1 will apply for the following year.

You may file a Homestead Exemption Application any time of year. The only requirements are that you own the home on January 1st and submit the application by April 1. November is a great time to check in on your property tax exemption options and speak with someone in your county tax assessor’s office. He or she can provide you full information about your homestead exemption options and let you know if there is any additional paperwork required for elevated homestead exemption benefits. This gives you plenty of time to get your tax exemption application in order and speak with the necessary governmental representatives, as well as your CPA, well before the craziness of tax season begins.

Get in Touch with an Experienced Real Estate Attorney for Assistance

If you are a Georgia homeowner who has not yet taken advantage of the homestead laws, or if you are considering changing your homestead exemption status, contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates. Our experienced real estate attorneys can help you prepare to make the most of your county’s homestead exemption laws and ensure that you don’t miss important deadlines. Give our office a call at (770) 933-9009.