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 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).
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. The Board of Tax Assessors receives tax returns filed by taxpayers
and processes applications for homestead exemption. 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 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
Generally, Newton County property taxes are due by October 20 and December 20.
If taxes are not paid on the property, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold.
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property
(both real and personal property) owned on January 1 of that tax year. The tax return
is a listing of the property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s declaration
of the value of their property.
Property tax returns must be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors between January
1 and April 1 of each year. After the taxpayer has filed the initial tax return
for real property, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each
succeeding year at the value determined for the preceding year and the taxpayer
is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements
are made to existing property, or other changes occur. Personal property tax returns
are required to be filed each year.
A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to
declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied
with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Tax Assessors. This
initiates the taxpayer's appeal process if the declared value is not accepted by
the Board of Tax Assessors.
When the Board of Tax Assessors changes the value of property from the value in
place for the preceding year or from the value that was returned by the taxpayer
for the current year, a notice of that change must be sent to the property owner.
The property owner desiring to appeal the change in value must do so within 45 days
of the date of mailing of this assessment notice. The assessment appeal may be made
on the basis of the taxability of the property, the value placed upon the property,
or the uniformity of that value when compared to other similar properties in the
county. Additionally, the appeal should not be based on any complaint about the
amount of taxes levied on the property.
The appeal is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors who again reviews their valuation
and the appeal filed and informs the taxpayer of its decision. If the taxpayer remains
dissatisfied, the appeal is forwarded to the County Board of Equalization. A hearing
is scheduled and conducted and the Board of Equalization renders its decision. If
the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal to Superior Court
may be made. In lieu of an administrative appeal with the Board of Equalization,
an arbitration method of appeal is also available to the taxpayer. The Board of
Tax Assessors can provide details regarding this procedure.
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. Homestead exemptions are deducted
from the assessed value of the qualifying property (40% of the fair market value).
To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption, the taxpayer must file an initial
application. In Newton County the application is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors.
With respect to all of the homestead exemptions, the Board of Tax Assessors makes
the final determination as to eligibility; however, if the application is denied
the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure then is available for the
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.
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. Newton 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 Assessor can answer questions regarding
the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
Available Newton County Homesteads (these are State & Local exemptions combined):
Standard Homestead EXEMPTION (S1)
- No income requirements
- Amounts deducted from Assessed Value (40% FMV): State-$2,000; County-$4,000; School-$4,000
Veterans (S5, SS)
- Must be 100% disabled-service connected
- Letter from Veteran Affairs verifying disability
- Unremarried surviving spouse or minor children may also qualify
- Amounts deducted from Assessed Value (40% FMV): State-$50,000;County-$50,000; School-$50,000
- Assessed Value (40% FMV) less exemption of $64,960 from State, County, School, School Bond, Fire, Ambulance and Hospital and Cities
Standard Elderly Exemption (S4)
- Age 65 and over prior to January 1 of year applied
- Net income cannot exceed $25,000
- Amounts deducted from Assessed Value (40% FMV): State $4,000; County--$20,000 to 30,000; School-$20,000 to 30,000: School Bond-$20,000 to $30,000, Ambulance $30,000, Hospital $30,000$20,000; School-$20,000:
School Exemption (L3)
- Age 62 and over prior to January 1 of year applied
- Gross income from all sources in household cannot exceed $10,000
- No source of income is exempted
- Amounts deducted from Assessed Value (40%FMV): State-$4,000; County-$20,000: School-$20,000-School
The Floating or Varying Homestead Exemption ( State Exemption only) (S6, S8,
This 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.
Homeowners Tax Relief Grant
The HTRC (Homeowner's Tax Relief Credit) is the result of the homeowner's tax relief enacted by the Governor and the General Assembly of the State of Georgia in 1999. The grant, appropriated by the General Assembly and the Governor for the last several years to counties, cities and schools, had given tax relief to homeowners in the form of a credit on their tax bills. For the 2009 tax year, the Governor and General Assembly did not fund the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant. Declining state revenues during the current recession means there is no money for the State to give the tax relief to homeowners. Therefore, there will not be a credit for this grant on 2009 tax bills on properties with homestead exemption. As a result, many Georgia homeowners will see a property tax increase of $200 to $300 on their 2009 tax bills.
Property Tax Deferral Program
In addition to the various homestead exemptions that are authorized, the law also
provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead property owners
62 and older with gross household income of $15,000 or less may defer but not exempt
the payment of ad valorem taxes on a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mobile/Manufactured Home Permits
Owners of mobile homes that are located in Newton County on January 1 must pay the
ad valorem taxes on the home by May 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 Newton State Court or possible
sale of the mobile/manufactured home.
Mobile home owners desiring to declare a different value from the existing value
on the home must file a tax return with the Board of Tax Assessors between January
1 and March 1.
For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia please visit the
State of Georgia Local Government Services Division website at http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov.