What should I know about property tax exemptions and deferrals for homeowners?
Property tax exemptions and deferrals for homeowners in Georgia
- What are tax relief benefits?
- What are state property tax beneftis for people who live in their homes?
- What are my rights?
- What are my responsibilities?
- What are the county's rights?
- What are the county's responsibilities?
What are tax relief benefits?
Georgia law gives property tax and school tax breaks to some homeowners. Applications for exemptions are due by April 1st. Contact your local tax office to apply.
Many counties and cities also offer tax exemptions that are higher than the state limit. Many counties offer additional tax exemptions for people with disabilities and other special populations. Also, many Georgia counties have an exemption that will freeze or cap the annual increase in the valuation of the property for as long as the homeowner lives there.
What are state property tax benefits for people who live in their homes?
Property tax benefits for homeowners
The State of Georgia offers homeowners a standard homestead exemption. You qualify for the exemption if you:
- own your home or have an ownership interest (described below) AND
- use it as your primary residence.
You have a qualifying ownership interest for homestead exemptions if you are one of the following:
- A homeowner with deed in their name, whether solely or jointly owned. You can get a homestead exemption in your name if you live in the home, regardless of the other owners.
- A person with a Life Estate in the home.
- A person with a bona fide contract for purchase of the home so long as the contract provides for conveyance upon performance of the contract.
- A person who resides in the home owned by a parent who died or became incapacitated regardless of whether the estate is distributed.
- A person who resides in the home he or she will inherit, but is vested in the Administrator or Executor of the estate.
- A person who resides in a home that is in a trust and who is a beneficiary under the trust.
- The spouse of a homeowner who lives in the home as long as the spouse is not getting a homestead exemption on another property. Spouses are only allowed one exemption even if they are separated.
- In counties with population between 23,500 and 23,675 per 2010 or subsequent census, a written lease (or leases) for 3 years prior to application and ownership of all improvements located on the property entitles the lessee to a homestead exemption.
If you qualify, you may be granted a $2,000 deduction from county and school taxes. That amount may be increased by local laws. Homestead exemptions do not apply to commercial or rental properties.
Property tax benefits for seniors
In addition to the standard homestead exemption, Georgia offers more exemptions to seniors.
Floating Inflation-Proof Exemption. A homeowner who is:
age 62 or older and
whose family income does not exceed $30,000 for the preceding year,
may be eligible for a complete exemption from state and county property taxes on any increase in home value. The homeowner would only have to pay taxes on the part of the value of the property that is the same as the value in the base year.
This exemption does not apply to school taxes or bond indebtedness.
If you qualify, you must apply for this exemption by April 1 of the first year for which the exemption applies. If you have continued to live in the same home, you do not have to apply again. Instead, the exemption will be renewed automatically every year after the year in which you applied. However, you must notify your county if you become ineligible for the complete exemption for any reason.
Double Homestead Exemption. Every homeowner who lives in the home and applies will receive the standard homestead exemption. A homeowner 65-years-old or older who applies may receive the double homestead exemption. This exempts up to $4,000 of the assessed value of the home from state and county property taxes.
Property Tax Deferral. An older homeowner who is entitled to the homestead exemption may be eligible to defer payment of their property taxes. The rules on deferring your property taxes are complicated, but in general, if you get a deferral, you are able to hold off paying your taxes until:
you sell the property, or
the amount of tax you’ve deferred reaches 85% of the value of your home.
School tax benefits for senior citizens. Up to $10,000 of the assessed value of the home of an older homeowner will be exempt from school taxes if:
You are 62 years old or older and live in the home.
Your net income, or the combined net income of you and your spouse must not be greater than $10,000. Net income does not include Social Security benefits or a pension (unless the pension is more than the maximum that a person could receive from Social Security).
You apply for the school tax exemption by April 1 of the year for which the exemption will apply.
You must file an affidavit with the city or county. Once the exemption is approved, it is automatically renewed. However, it is your responsibility to give notice if you are no longer entitled to the exemption.
Homestead Exemptions for Qualified Disabled Veterans and Surviving Spouses
Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse: A qualified disabled veteran is granted an exemption of the maximum amount allowed under federal law on the value of his or her home. The federal maximum for 2019 is $86,645. This covers all ad valorem tax for state, county, municipal and school purposes. It also may apply to a surviving spouse who has not remarried or their children under 18. Taxes must still be paid on property with a value that exceeds the exempted amount.
Surviving Spouse of U.S. Service Member: The surviving spouse of a member of the armed services who has not remarried and whose spouse died as a result of war or armed conflict may be eligible for an exemption of the maximum amount allowed under federal law on the value of his or her home. The federal maximum for 2019 is $86,645.This covers all ad valorem tax for state, county, municipal and school purposes. Taxes must still be paid on property with a value that exceeds the exempted amount. This exemption renews automatically, but proof of continued eligibility may be required.
Surviving Spouse of Peace Officer or Firefighter: The surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty, who has not remarried, is granted homestead exemption for the full value of their home.
What are my rights?
You have the right to apply and be approved for property tax benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements. For exemptions, you have the right to get the exemption for as long as you remain eligible. Exemptions filed by the deadline (often April 1st) will be applied to the current tax year. Those filed after the deadline will be applied to the next tax year.
What are my responsibilities?
You are responsible for proving that you meet the requirements for each tax benefit. Most tax exemptions automatically renew, but might require renewal. You are also responsible for giving notice if you no longer qualify for a tax exemption.
For the property tax deferral, you are responsible for filing a new application each year.
What are the county’s rights?
The county tax assessor can request documents that support your application. They can deny your application if you cannot prove you are eligible for the tax exemption.
What are the county’s responsibilities?
The county is responsible for automatically renewing most property tax exemptions. Some county-specific property tax exemptions may require you to periodically renew the exemption.
How can I apply for a homestead exemption or tax deferral?
You must file your application for an exemption or deferral for the current year by April 1st. You will need documentation to file, including:
- Georgia Driver’s License or valid GA identification
- Social Security Number (Owner and Spouse)
- Registration for all vehicles owned
- Ownership documentation:
- Recorded Deed in your name
- Recorded deed plus documentation linking you to that deed to show an ownership interest such as:
- Birth Certificate
- Death Certificate
- Probate Records
- Copy of Will
- Contract for Deed
- Trust Documents
- Trust Document and Affidavit, if the property is in a trust
- Proof of Income (Senior and other Special Exemptions)
- Copies of your previous year Federal and State income tax returns
- A copy of your Social Security Award Letter (if you do not file income tax)
File your tax exemption or deferral application with your county’s:
tax commissioner's office, or
in some counties, the tax assessor's office has been delegated to receive applications.
You can find an Application for Homestead Exemption on the Department of Revenue website. Check with your county for local exemption and deferral applications. Many counties allow you to complete a tax exemption application online.
How do I qualify for these exemptions?
To be eligible for the double homestead exemption:
You must be 65 years old or older.
You must be living in the home to which the exemption applies on January 1 of the year for which the exemption applies.
Your net income, or the combined net income of you and your spouse must not be greater than $10,000 for the preceding year. Net income does not include Social Security benefits or a pension (unless the pension is more than the maximum that a person could receive from Social Security).
You must apply for the double homestead exemption by April 1 of the first year for which the exemption applies. If you continue to live in the same home, you do not have to apply again. Instead, the exemption will be renewed automatically every year after the year in which you first applies. However, you must notify your county if you become ineligible for the double homestead exemption for any reason.
To be eligible for property tax deferral:
You must be 62 years old or older.
You must own and be living in the home to which the exemption applies.
In the case that you elect to defer taxes on up to $50,000 of the home's assessed value, the total income of all people living in the home during the preceding year must not be more than $15,000.
The total amount of taxes deferred plus interest and any other liens on the home must not be greater than 85% of the fair market value.
You must maintain insurance on the property to protect against loss by fire or other hazards.
You must file an annual application by April 1 of the year for which the exemption applies.
- Find an Application for Homestead Exemption on the Georgia Department of Revenue website.
- Learn more about your rights as a taxpayer with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights from the Georgia Department of Revenue.