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 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law through the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A. 48-5-7). Fair market value, means “the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept for the property at an arm’s length, bona fide sale.” (O.C.G.A. 48-5-311) 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).
(View the complete Official Code of Georgia here)
Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:
The State Revenue Commissioner is responsible for examining the tax digests of counties in Georgia in order to determine that property is assessed uniformly and equally between and within the counties (O.C.G.A. 48-5-340). In addition, the State levies ad valorem tax each year in an amount which cannot exceed one-fourth of one mill(.00025).
The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioners, is responsible for the appraisal, assessment, and the equalization of all assessments within the county. They notify taxpayers when changes are made to the value of property, receive and review all appeals filed, and insure that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.
The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the Board of Tax Assessors.
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for county government operations and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portion of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.
The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for school purposes and adopts the mill rate necessary to fund the portion of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.
The County Tax Commissioner, an elected office established by the Constitution, is the official responsible for performing all functions related to billing, collecting, accounting for and disbursing ad valorem taxes collected in this county. The Tax Commissioner also serves as an agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles.
Several types of homestead exemptions have been enacted to reduce the burden of ad valorem taxation for Georgia homeowners. These exemptions apply to homestead property owned by and taxpayer and occupied as his or her legal residence (some exceptions to this rule apply and your tax assessors office can explain them to you).
To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption, the taxpayer must file an initial application. In Murray County, the application is filed with the Tax Commissioners Office. The application must be filed between January 1 and April 1 of the year for which the exemption is first claimed by the taxpayer.
Once granted, the homestead exemption is automatically renewed each year. The taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change in ownership of property or the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption.
Under the 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 Assessors office in Murray County can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
The Local County Exemptions supercede the state exemption amount when the local exemption is greater than the state exemption.
Once homestead is granted you do not have to apply again unless there is a change of ownership including a Deed of Trust, name or spelling correction on the Deed, or if you seek to qualify for a different type of exemption which would follow regular homestead. Refinancing your property will not affect your exemption; however if you are adding or deleting a name to the vesting deed, you will need to refile for your homestead.
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FILING DATES ARE JANUARY 1st THROUGH April 1st.
Effective June 1, 2005 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 your primary residence as of January 1 to be eligible.
Standard Homestead Exemption
The Home of each resident of Georgia that is actually occupied and used as the primary residence by the owner may be granted a $2,000 exemption from state, county and school taxes except for school taxes levied by municipalities and except to pay interest on and to retire bonded indebtedness. The $2,000 is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead. The owner of a dwelling house of a farm that is granted homestead exemption may also claim a homestead exemption in participation with the program of rural housing under contract with the local housing authority. (O.C.G.A 48-5-44)
Individuals 65 Years of Age and Older May Claim a $4,000 Exemption
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim a $4,000 exemption from all state and county ad valorem taxes if the income of that person and his spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit is subject to change each year. The owner must notify the tax assessors office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47)
Individuals 62 Years of Age and Older May Claim an Individuals 62 years of age or over that are residents of each independent school district may claim an additional exemption from all ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire school bond indebtedness if the income of that person and his spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit is subject to change each year. The owner must notify the tax assessors office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. This exemption may not exceed $10,000 of the homestead's assessed value. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52)
Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veterans
Any qualifying disabled veteran may be granted an exemption from paying property taxes that is subject to change each year for state, county, municipal, and school purposes. The value of the property in excess of this exemption remains taxable. This exemption is extended to the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48)
Homestead Exemption for Unremarried Surviving Spouse
The surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in any war or armed conflict will be granted a homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal and school purposes that is subject to change each year. The surviving spouse will continue to be eligible for the exemption as long as they do not remarry. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52.1)
In addition to the various homestead exemptions that are authorized, the law provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead property owners 62 and older with a gross income of $15,000 or less may defer but not exempt the payment of ad valorem taxes on 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. If the homestead application is denied, the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure then is available to the taxpayer.
Tags must be renewed on or before your birthday.
Property taxes are due by December 1 each year. Mobile home taxes are due by April 1 each year. Personal property forms are due by April 1 each year.
Please note: If you no longer own the listed items, you must contact the Assessor's Office or you will be taxed on it. All mobile homes must be registered in the Assessor's Office. You must display your decal. If you do not do so, you can be summoned to Magistrate Court for failure to display.
Past due charges are added as follows:
If you trade in a vehicle, keep your old tag. As long as the tag and the vehicle are in the same name we can transfer that tag to your new vehicle. All vehicles from 1986 or newer require a Georgia title in order to register it. The State of Georgia offers a variety of tags.
If you purchased a vehicle out of state, you may be liable to pay sales tax to Georgia before we can apply for your title and issue a tag.
If you cancel your insurance for any reason, please contact our office at (706) 517-1400 ext. 1 to cancel your registration. If you do not do this, you will receive a letter from the state with a $25 lapse fee. If you fail to comply and pay that fee you will get an additional fine of $65.
To cancel your registration, come to our office, located at 101 S 3rd Ave, and show a form of ID.
101 S 3rd Ave
P.O. Box 336
Chatsworth, GA 30705
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Deputy Chief Tax Commissioner
Bookkeeper / Dealer Titles
7:30 AM to 6 PM