Did you know that property tax laws can differ from state to state?
That’s why we put together a new state-specific series called What You Need to Know About Property Tax. Each month, we’ll cover everything from property tax returns and exemptions to property tax appeals and valuations as they pertain to individual states. This month, we’re talking property tax in Georgia.
What is property tax, and why does it vary from state to state?
Property tax is a real estate ad-valorem tax, calculated by a local government and paid by the owner of the property. The tax is usually based on the value of the owned property and is used by the local governing body to fund numerous necessary governmental operations.
Property tax varies from state to state because the local governing bodies have control over how they implement the varying types of taxes. Sales, income, and excise taxes can also vary among states.
Property Tax Returns in Georgia
Based on information gathered from the Georgia State Department of Revenue, here is what you need to know regarding property tax returns in the Peach State.
When are property tax returns due?
According to O.C.G.A. 48-5-18, Georgia property tax is due on property that was owned on January 1 for the current tax year. The law provides that property tax returns are expected to be filed with the county tax receiver or the county tax commissioner between January 1 and April 1.
The Tax Commissioner in the county is responsible for collecting property taxes for the county and school. In some counties, the Tax Commissioner may collect property taxes for the city. Taxes are due by December 20th unless otherwise stated explicitly in the law. Some counties have an earlier deadline for payment of property taxes, and some require the taxes to be paid in two installments.
Property Tax Exemptions in Georgia
If you’re looking for property tax breaks in Georgia, the Freeport Exemption could be a beneficial one. As of January 1, 2016, business inventory is exempt from state property taxes, and since then, approximately 93 percent of Georgia’s counties and over 140 cities have adopted a Level One Freeport Exemption.
The Freeport Exemption: Level One
The Freeport Exemption states that the governing authority of any county or municipality may elect, with the approval of the voters, to exempt the following types of tangible personal property:
- Inventory of goods in the process of being manufactured or produced including raw materials and partly finished goods;
- Inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within this State held by the manufacturer or producer for a period not to exceed 12 months;
- Inventory of finished goods on January 1 that are stored in a warehouse, dock, or wharf which are destined for shipment outside this State for a period not to exceed 12 months;
- Stock in trade of a fulfillment center which on January 1 are stored in the fulfillment center.
The percentage of exemption can be set at 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 percent of the inventory value. Over sixty percent of Georgia counties and cities have adopted the Freeport Exemption at some level.
The Freeport Exemption: Level Two
Level two states that the governing authority of any county or municipality may elect, with the approval of the voters, to exempt goods, wares, and merchandise of every character and kind constituting a business’s inventory which would not otherwise qualify for a level 1 freeport exemption. The percentage of exemption can be set at 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 percent of the inventory value.
Georgia Property Tax Appeals
If your annual assessment seems to increase significantly year after year, it is possible to lower your bill by filing a property tax appeal. Properties are not always assessed correctly, and their values can change over time.
When filing a property tax appeal in Georgia, it’s important to take note of the following:
- You have 45 days to appeal upon receipt of your annual assessment notice.
- The appeal can be based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption.
- The written appeal is filed with the County Board of Tax Assessors. Do NOT send your appeal to the Department of Revenue.
To learn more about the general property tax appeal process, read How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment.
Trust MountainSeed to Manage Your Appeals & Property Tax in Georgia
If you need help filing a property tax appeal, consider MountainSeed’s Commercial Property & Bank Branch Tax Appeal Business. Our highly experienced team is dedicated to managing the appeals process every step of the way. Best of all, we work on a contingency basis, so there are zero upfront costs.
Throughout the years, MountainSeed has worked with over 600 financial institutions in addition to thousands of real estate owners. Our operational team has extensive experience in property tax appeal scenarios in states all over the country, so you can rest easy knowing that we have the experience and know-how to manage your appeal in Georgia.