Owning a home is a wonderful experience. But when it’s time to pay taxes, the joys of homeownership could quickly turn sour.
If you own a house in Georgia, it’s worth looking into the property tax deductions available and seeing if you qualify. Reduced property taxes are allowed by Georgia law if you and your home satisfy certain criteria. Taking advantage of these deductions, even small ones, can add up over time and reduce your tax bill. So, let’s explore your options and see how you can save some extra cash.
Who Is Exempt From Paying Property Taxes in Georgia?
Those exempt from having to pay property taxes include homeowners with homestead exemption, senior citizens, officers, veterans, US service members, those that qualify for conservation use and in some cases rental property.
Homestead Exemption for Homeowners
Qualified homeowners for this exemption may be granted a $2,000 deduction from county and school taxes provided that they own the property as of Jan 1 and filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in the county. In general, you can qualify for the homestead exemption if you use your house as your primary residence and meet any of the following requirements:
- A homeowner who is the solo or joint owner and has a deed in their name. Regardless of who the other owners are, if you live in the house, you are eligible for a homestead exemption in your name.
- An owner of a life estate in the property.
- A person who has a legitimate contract in place to buy the house, provided that the contract calls for a conveyance upon the performance of the contract.
- A person who lives in a parent’s house after they pass away or become incapable regardless of how the state is divided.
- A person who lives in the house they will inherit but is vested in the estate’s administrator or executor.
- A person who lives in a property owned by a trust and is one of the trust’s beneficiaries.
- A homeowner’s spouse who resides in the house, provided that the spouse is not already eligible for a homestead exemption on another piece of property. Even when they are divorced, spouses are only permitted one exemption.
- A documented lease (or leases) for 3 years prior to application and ownership of all improvements located in counties with a population between 23,500 and 23,675 as of the 2010 or subsequent census qualify the lessee for a homestead exemption.
Persons that are away from their homes due to health reasons still qualify for the homestead exemption. The tax receiver or tax commissioner may be informed by a relative or acquaintance, in which case the homestead exemption will be granted.
Property Tax Exemption For Seniors in Georgia
In Georgia, more exemptions are offered to seniors aged 62 and older. Below are the exemptions that are offered for seniors.
- School Tax Benefit
If your annual income is less than $10,000, you may be exempt from school taxes of up to $10,000 of your home value. Social Security benefits, pensions, retirement benefits, and disability income are excluded from net income, unless the pension exceeds the maximum amount that could be received from Social Security.
- Floating Inflation-Proof Exemption
If annual income is less than $30,000, any rise in house value can be qualified for a total exemption from state and local property taxes. Only the portion of the property’s value that is equal to its base year value would be subject to taxation by the homeowner.
- Double Homestead Exemption
The double homestead exemption is available to homeowners who are 65 years of age or older and who apply. This exempts the residence from paying state and local property taxes up to $4,000 of its assessed value.
- Property Tax Deferral
A senior citizen who qualifies for the homestead exemption may be able to postpone paying their property taxes. In general, if you are granted a deferral, you may postpone your tax payment until the property is sold or your deferred tax payment reaches 85% of the value of the home.
- Property Tax Exemption
The residence and up to 10 acres of surrounding land are exempt from state ad valorem taxes for anyone 65 years of age or older. The assessed value of any land that is larger than the allotted 10 acres will be subject to ad valorem tax for state purposes.
Officers, Veterans, and US Service Members in Georgia
- Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse
A qualified disabled veteran is entitled to an exemption on the value of their home up to the maximum amount permitted by federal law. For 2019, the federal upper limit is $86,645. All ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal, and educational purposes are covered by this. This also applies to the surviving spouse who hasn’t remarried or children under 18 years old if they continue to live in the home as a resident. Taxes are still due on property with a value higher than the exempt limit.
- Surviving Spouse of U.S. Service Member
A homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal, and school purposes in the amount of $60,000 plus an extra amount will be provided to the un-remarried surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in or died as a result of any war or armed conflict. The additional amount is calculated based on an index rate established by the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As long as they don’t get remarried, the surviving spouse will continue to be qualified for the exemption.
- Surviving Spouse of Peace Officer or Firefighter
For as long as the applicant resides in the property as a homestead, the un-remarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty will be granted a homestead exemption for the full value of the homestead.
Homestead Valuation Freeze Exemption
Georgia’s Constitution gives counties the authority to adopt regional homestead exemptions. Several counties have put in place an exemption that keeps property values frozen at their base year values for so long as the owner continues to live there. The homeowner’s taxes will be calculated based on the base year valuation even though property values are expected to climb further. In some counties, there may be age and income restrictions on this exemption from county, school, and/or municipal taxes. Other counties might permit an annual increase in base year valuation of a specified percentage.
For information on this exemption in their area, homeowners should get in touch with their county. These counties have this kind of exemption in place:
Conservation Use Exemptions
Real estate is valued at 40% of its present use value when it is used for legitimate conservation purposes. This beneficial tax status is intended to shield property owners from the pressure and burden of property taxes by changing the use of their land from agriculture to residential or commercial. The property must continue to be used in an appropriate manner for 10 years to maintain eligibility. Owners of agricultural and/or timberland that qualify for conservation use should submit an application for current use assessment to the county board of tax assessors on or before the deadline for filing ad valorem tax returns in the county.
Rental Property Deduction
If you own a rental property and your expenses outweigh your revenue from the property, you may be allowed to subtract that loss from your taxable income. You may deduct up to $12,500 of your non-property-related income if it is less than $150,000. You might be eligible to write off up to $25,000 of your rental property losses if your non-property income is less than $100,000.
Paying property taxes is an important responsibility of homeowners that helps to improve their community. Property taxes collected by local governments are used to fund various public services and infrastructure projects such as schools, parks, roads, and public safety.
But for homeowners, particularly those who reside in regions with high property values, property taxes can also be a considerable expense. This is why understanding the possible property tax deductions can be useful.