Habersham County Tax|General Information (2024)

Ad Valorem Tax

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 (O.C.G.A. 48-5-7). Fair market value means "the amount knowledgeable a 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).

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 Habersham County, GA Tax Assessor 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 accept and approve all Homestead Exemptions claimed by the Taxpayers of Habersham County.

  • The Habersham County, GA 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 Habersham County, GA Board of Commissioners 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 Habersham County, GA 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 Habersham County, GA 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. The Tax Commissioner does not set values or the millage rates.

Tax Bills

Property tax bills are normally mailed out by August 15th of each year. Taxes are to be paid by November 15th of the same year.

Tax Returns

In accordance with Georgia law, all property held and subject to taxation on January 1 of the tax year, shall be returned by the owner to the Tax Assessor’s Office between January 1 and April 1 of that tax year. Any taxpayer who fails to return his property for taxation shall be deemed to have returned for taxations the same property at the same final valuation as and same real property exemptions as for the preceding year.A property owner who is dissatisfied with the assessed value of their property may also file a return stating their opinion of the true Fair Market Value of the property as of January 1 of the tax year. This will establish appeal right if the value is changed again by the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Assessment Appeals

The Habersham County, GA Board of Assessors’ appraisal staff determines your property values based on recent sales and market conditions. These values are based on the condition of the property as of January 1st of the tax year. The Board of Tax Assessors is required to issue a notice of assessment for taxable real and personal property which states the value of said property. These notices are generally mailed in the Spring of each year.

If the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the value placed on the property, the taxpayer has the right to appeal this value within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal may be based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. The written appeal must initially be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors and must state their chosen method of appeal.

Additional information on assessment appeals may be obtained from the Tax Assessors’ Office.

For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia, please visit the State of Georgia Local Government Services Division website.

Homestead Exemptions

Homestead exemptions have been enacted to reduce the burden of ad valorem taxation for Georgia homeowners. The exemptions apply to homestead property owned by the taxpayer and occupied as his or her legal residence – some exceptions to this rule apply and your Tax Commissioner can explain them to you. Homestead exemptions are deducted from the assessed value of the qualifying property (40% of the fair market value). Then, the millage rate is applied to arrive at the amount of ad valorem tax due.

To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption, the taxpayer must file an initial application. The application is filed with the Habersham County Tax Assessor's Office. First time homeowners need to bring a copy of their warranty deed to insure their application is filed correctly. With respect to all of the homestead exemptions, the Board of Assessors makes the final determination as to eligibility; however, if the application is denied the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure is then available to the taxpayer.

Georgia law allows for the year-round filing of homestead applications but the application must be received by April 1 of the year for which the exemption is first claimed by the taxpayer. Homestead applications received after that date will be applied to the next tax year. The deadline for filing an application for a homestead exemption in Habersham County is April 1. Once granted, the homestead exemption is automatically renewed each year and the taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change of residence, ownership, or the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption.

Under authority of the State Constitution several different types of homestead exemptions are provided. These are called State Exemptions. In addition, local governments are authorized to provide for increased exemption amounts. These are called Local County Exemptions. Habersham County has such local county exemptions. The Local County Exemptions supersede the State Exemptions when the Local Exemption amount is greater than the State Exemption amount. The Tax Commissioner's office and Tax Assessor's Office can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.

The State exemptions include:

  • The Standard Homestead Exemptionis available to all homeowners who otherwise qualify by ownership and residency requirements and it is an amount equal to $2,000 which is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property. The exemption applies to the maintenance and operation portion of the mill rate levy of the county and the county school system and the State mill rate levy. It does not apply to the portion of the mill rate levied to retire bonded indebtedness.
  • The Standard Elderly School Tax Homestead Exemption is an increased homestead exemption for homeowners 62 and older where the net income does not exceed $10,000 for the preceding year. This exemption applies only to school tax but it does include taxes levied to retire bonded indebtedness. The amount of the exemption is up to $10,000 deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property.
  • The Standard Elderly General Homestead Exemption is available to homeowners who otherwise qualify and who are 65 and older where the net income of the applicant and spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the preceding year. Social Security income and certain retirement income are excluded from the calculation of the income threshold. This exemption, which is in an amount up to $4,000 deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property, applies to county taxes, school taxes, and the state tax and it does apply to taxes levied to retire bonded indebtedness.
  • The Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption is available to certain disabled veterans in an amount up to $50,000 deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead property. This exemption applies to all ad valorem tax levies; however, it is restricted to certain types of very serious disabilities (that are service-connected disabilities) and proof of disability, either from the Veterans Administration or from a private physician in certain circ*mstances. A similar exemption in the same amount is now available to the un-remarried surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in any war or armed conflict engaged in by the United States. The surviving spouse must furnish appropriate documentation that spousal benefits are received as a result of the death of the armed forces member.
  • The Floating or Varying Homestead Exemption is an exemption which is available to homeowners 62 or older with gross household incomes of $30,000 or less. The exemption applies to state and county ad valorem taxes but it does not apply to school tax. The exemption is called a floating exemption because the amount of the exemption increases as the value of the homestead property is increased. However, since the exemption replaces any other state and county exemption already in place for the property, taxpayers should be very careful in making application since in many instances the granting of this exemption will initially at least increase the amount of taxes levied on the property.
  • Age 65 and Older Exemption from State Ad Valorem Taxes - If you qualify for one of the other homestead exemption listed and are age 65 or older as of January 1, you also qualify for an exemption from the State portion of ad valorem taxes in an amount equal to 100% of the value of your home and up to 10 acres of land. The value of any additional land or improvements on the same parcel will be granted the standard maximum exemption of the homestead exemption for which you otherwise qualify.
  • The Un-remarried Surviving Spouse of a Firefighter or Peace Officer shall be granted total exemption from all ad valorem taxes levied, if such person’s spouse, who as a member of a qualified Fire Department or Peace Officer Agency, stead Exemption is available for the surviving spouse, which provides an exemption for the full value of the homestead with respect to all ad valorem taxes for the unmarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter who was killed or died as a result of injury in the performance of their duty. Documents from the agency must be provided.

Mobile Homes

Owners of mobile homes that are located in Habersham County on January 1 must pay the ad valorem taxes on the home by April 1 of each year and obtain their location permit at that time. Failure to pay the taxes and obtain the permit will result in a 10% tax penalty, issuance of a citation for appearance in Habersham County Magistrate Court or possible sale of the mobile/manufactured home.

Bills for mobile/modular homes in Habersham County are usually mailed February 1st. All mobile homes must be registered in the Tax Assessors office. You must display your decal. If you do not do so, you can be sent to magistrate court. Contact the Tax Assessors’ office for more information at (706) 839-0100.

Mobile home owners desiring to declare a different value from the existing value on the home have 45 days to file an appeal with the Board of Tax Assessors. If a taxpayer is dissatisfied with the value change or corrections, the taxpayer has the right to appeal to the Board of Equalization within 21 days of the date of the notice.

Specialized and Preferential Assessment Programs

Two general types of specialized or preferential assessment programs are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs authorizes assessment at 30% rather than 40% of fair market value for certain agricultural properties being used for bona fide agricultural purposes.

The second type of preferential program is the Conservation Use program which provides that certain agricultural property, timber land property, environmentally sensitive property, or residential transitional property is to be valued and assessed for ad valorem tax purposes at its current use value rather than its fair market value.

Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owner to covenant with the Board of Tax Assessors to maintain the property in its qualified use for at least 10 years in order to qualify for the preference. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for either of these programs. These exemptions must be applied for by April of each year.

  • Rehabilitated and Landmark Historic Property - Historic property that qualifies for listing on the Georgia National Register of Historic Places may qualify for preferential assessment. The preferential assessment shall extend to the building or structure, the real property on which the building or structure is located, and not more than two acres surrounding the building or structure. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for this assessment.
  • Brownfield Property - Property which qualifies for participation in the State's Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Program and which has been designated as such by the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources may qualify for preferential assessment. This special program provides for the preferential assessment of environmental and contaminated property by freezing the value for ten years as an incentive for developers to clean up the property and return it to the tax rolls. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for this assessment.
  • Timber - Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. This value is then multiplied by the appropriate mill rate to determine the tax amount due.

Equipment, Machinery, and Fixtures

Equipment, machinery, and fixtures are assessed at 40 percent of fair market value. The tax assessor may value the equipment, machinery, and fixtures of a going business to reflect the fair market value of the business as a whole. When no ready market exists for the sale of equipment, machinery, and fixtures, a fair market value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant, and useful information available. This information may include, but is not limited to, the original cost of the property, depreciation or obsolescence, and any increase in value by reason of inflation.

Freeport Exemptions for Businesses

Manufacturers may qualify for Freeport Exemption on one or more of three categories. The categories are raw goods, goods in process and manufactured goods stored in warehouse to be shipped out of state. Specific detailed information is available and applications must be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors between January 1st and April 1st each year.

Habersham County Tax|General Information (2024)

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