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. 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. " 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:
Property Taxes are due by November 15th of each year. If taxes are not paid, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold. When mailing in tax payments a United States Postal Service postmark will be accepted (not metered post marks).
For past due property taxes, interest will be added to the tax bill on the 16th of each month at a rate of prime plus 3% divided by 12 months. A FIFA will be filed in the Clerk of Courts office 30 days from the date on the delinquent notice. A 5% penalty is added after 120 days (max 20%).
For past due mobile homes, interest will be added to the tax bill on the 2nd of each month at a rate of prime plus 3% divided by 12 months. A 10% penalty is added April 2nd and a FIFA filed in the Clerk of Superior Court 30 days from the date on the delinquent notice.
If taxes remain unpaid, your account will be submitted to Delinquent Tax Services Inc. Additional admin/levy fees will be added. The fees will cover the cost of certified notices as well as a title search to prepare the property for tax sale. The property will also be posted and photographed before the sale. Four weeks prior to the sale the property will be advertised in the Daily Tribune Local newspaper with additional advertising cost.
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1 of the 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.
Personal property tax returns (PT-50p) are to be filed annually with the Board of Assessors between January 1st - April 1st each year. Note: If you no longer own the listed items, or have closed or sold your business, you should file a final personal property return, indicating the new owner, and the date of sale or closure. Failure to do so may result in further personal property assessments.
Property tax returns for real estate must be filed with the Bartow County Tax Assessor between January 1 and April 1 of each year where property has changed or been acquired. The filing deadline is April 1 of each year. The taxpayer may elect not to file a property tax return if they have no changes that would affect the value of their property from the previous year. Failure to file a required return will subject the taxpayer to a 10% penalty on the value of the property not returned plus interest and possibly penalties from the date the tax would have been due.
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.
All applicants must have current ID to qualify.
EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2005, application for homestead exemption may be filed any time during the year. However, applications must be filed by APRIL 1ST of the year in which the exemption is first claimed by the Taxpayer provided the applicant meets ownership and residency eligibility requirements. Applications filed after APRIL 1st will be processed the following taxable year: Rental property does not qualify for any exemptions. You must own and occupy your home to receive any exemption.
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.
Owners of mobile homes located in Bartow County on January 1 must pay ad valorem taxes on the home by April 1 of each year to obtain their location permit. Failure to pay the taxes and obtain the decal will result in a 10% tax penalty and interest, and possibly an issuance of a citation for appearance in Bartow County Magistrate Court or possible sale of the mobile/manufactured home.
Bills for mobile/modular homes in Bartow County are usually mailed January 2. All mobile homes must be registered in the Tax Assessors office. You must display the decal. Contact the Tax Assessors’ office for more information at (770) 387 – 5090.
Mobile home owners desiring to declare a different value 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.
Equipment, machinery, and fixtures are assessed at 40 percent of fair market value (FMV). All property is assessed at FMV using one of three approaches to value: market, cost, or income. Cost approach is most frequently used to value personal property as accurate data for this approach is the most readily available.
Manufacturers may qualify for Freeport Exemption on one or more of three categories. The categories are raw materials, 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.
In Georgia, property is assessed at 40% of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law. (O.C.G.A. Sect; 48-5-7) Property is assessed at the county level. 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. Sect; 48-5-340)
The tax bills received by property owners will include both the fair market value and the assessed value of the property. 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. Sect; 48-5-2)
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 that does not agree with the appraised value on their tax bill and wants to appeal the change in value must do so within 45 days of the date of mailing of this assessment notice. (O.C.G.A. Sect; 48-5-311). 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. The appeal must be filed within the applicable time period and cannot be filed after that time. Additionally, the appeal should not be based on any complaint about the amount of taxes levied on the property.
Property owners can file an appeal with the Board of Assessors. If no agreement is reached, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the Board of Equalization. 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.
If the owner is absent from their residence because of duty in the armed forces, a friend or family member may file on behalf of said owner. Said notice shall be filed within 90 days of the notice of value from the Board of Assessors.
For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia, please visit the State of Georgia Local Government Services Division website at http://dor.georgia.gov/.
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