Category Archives: Taxes

Homestead Tax Exemptions

Homestead exemptions provide a significant reduction in annual property taxes and are available to individuals who own and reside in a home in DeKalb County. The property must be the legal residence for all purposes (including filing of Federal and State income taxes, registering any owned or lease vehicles, registering to vote, etc.) on January 1 of each year to qualify for or retain an exemption. Only private residences are eligible for an exemption – at their primary residence. Once an exemption has been granted, it remains in place as long as the applicant continues to reside on the property, or until a different exemption is applied for and received.
You may check your exemption status by reviewing your property information.
Homestead exemptions are not transferable, and must be reapplied for at the new home. Basic homestead applications may be processed by mail, in person, or online at www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner .  Applicant(s) for senior or disability exemptions must apply in person and present copies of the previous year’s Federal and State income tax returns, any Social Security Form 1099s, proof of age, and/or proof of 100% total and permanent disability. Once an exemption has been granted, it remains in place as long as the applicant continues to reside on the property. A Property Assessment Freeze is applied to all properties granted homestead exemption for County assessments.
Basic Homestead
Basic Homestead is an exemption you may claim against the taxable value of your home as long as you own and occupy that home as your primary residence on January 1 of the year in which the exemption is being claimed. There are no age or income requirements for this exemption.
All homeowners seeking a homestead exemption are required to file an application. Application is not automatic. Neither your mortgage company nor closing attorney may file the application when a home is purchased. A homestead application can be obtained from the Tax Commissioner’s Office. It may be returned by mail as long as it is postmarked no later than April 1 st. A copy of the application can be found the Tax Commissioner’s Forms page, or you may also apply on-line by clicking here
Property Assessment Freeze
Residents in DeKalb County that receive the benefit of homestead exemption may also apply for a property assessment freeze to help offset future increases in property value. This freeze does not affect school, city or state taxes. Residents who currently have homestead exemption must apply for this freeze, however new applicants applying for exemption will receive the benefit of the freeze with their exemption. Once the Freeze Level is set, it cannot be “re-frozen” at a lower level regardless of changes in assessment. Residents must qualify for this freeze by April 1.
Disabled Veteran or Widow(er)
If you are a disabled veteran, un-remarried spouse of a disabled veteran or un-remarried spouse of a veteran killed in action, you may qualify for a Disabled Veteran/Spousal exemption which will provide additional savings on your property tax bill. These exemptions must be applied for in person. Please be prepared to provide a letter of adjudication or other documentation regarding disability or widow(er) status. If disabled, disability must be 100% permanent and total. If 65 or older, please provide income information, as additional savings may be available.
Exemption for Un-Remarried Spouse of Peace Officers and Firefighters Killed in the Line of Duty
Provides an exemption for the un-remarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or Firefighter who was killed in the line of duty for all ad valorem property taxes. This will not affect any special assessments assigned to the property (sanitation, stormwater, or streetlights, etc.). This exemption must be applied for in person.
Disabled
If you are 100% totally and permanently disabled and meet certain income requirements you may qualify for the Disabled Exemption, which will provide additional reductions in your property tax bill.
If you are 70 years of age
H9 – This has a household income limit of $84,115 Federal Adjusted Gross PLUS Municipal Bonds. It exempts the applicant(s) from school taxes and maintains the exemption of $10,000 for County levies (except bonds).
If you are 65 years of age or 100% Permanently Disabled, you may be eligible for either
H4 – This has a household income limit of $10,000 Georgia Net Income *. This exempts the recipient(s) from all school taxes, and increases the exemption to $14,000 for all County levies.
H6 – This has a household income limit of $15,000 Georgia Net Income*. It increases the exemption to $16,500 for school taxes and $14,000 for County levies.
H8 – This has a household income limit of $16,000 Gross Income. It increases the exemption to $22,500 for school taxes and $14,000 for all County levies.
If you are 62 years of age or 100% Permanently Disabled, you may be eligible for either
H3 – This has a household income limit of $10,000 Georgia Net Income*. Exempts the recipient(s) from all school taxes, and maintains the exemption of $10,000 for County levies (except bonds).
H7 – This exemption has a household income limit of $16,000 gross income. It reduces taxable value of property by $22,500 for school taxes, and by $10,000 for County levies (except bonds).
* The Georgia Net Income requirement used for determination of eligibility is not a number found on income tax forms, but a formula provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. For 2015, up to $31,956 for an individual or $63,912 for joint applicants in Social Security and retirement benefits may be excluded when calculating Georgia Net Income.
Other Local Exemptions
City of Atlantaexemptions are granted along with County exemption
City of Avondale – local exemptions are not awarded
City of Brookhaven – Exemptions are granted along with the County exemptions

  • Basic homestead exemption of $20,000 plus city assessment freeze (if applicable)
  • Senior Exemption (age 65 and meeting County requirements) receive $34,000 plus city assessment freeze (if applicable)

City of Chamblee – The basic homestead exemption is granted along with County exemption. Elderly exemptions are applied for with the City of Chamblee.

  • Basic homestead exemption of $30,000 off assessed value
  • Elderly residents 65 and older and disabled residents that are 100% disabled can receive a 100% exemption from ad valorem taxes

City of Clarkston – seniors age 65 may apply for additional $20,000 exemption from the assessed value of their property when they qualify for homestead exemption.
City of Decatur – exemptions are applied for with the City of Decatur
City of Doraville – exemptions are awarded along with the county exemptions

  • Basic homestead exemption of $25,000
  • Elderly residents age 70 and older can receive 100% city tax exemption

City of Dunwoody

  • Basic exemption – $10,000 off assessed value plus a 1 mill reduction off assessed value
  • Senior exemption – age 65 with $15,000 or less GA NET income – $14,000 plus a 1 mill reduction off assessed value

City of Lithonia– city exemptions are awarded with the county exemptions

  • Basic homestead exemption of $2,000 off assessed value
  • Elderly residents 65 and older and 100% disabled residents with net income less than $4,000 can receive an additional exemption of $2,000 off assessed value

City of Pine Lake– exemption is granted along with County exemption

  • Basic homestead exemption of $4,000 off assessed value

City of Stone Mountain – local exemptions are applied for with the City of Stone Mountain

  • Elderly residents age 62 or older with an income of less than $10,000 can receive an exemption of $20,000 off assessed value for city operations

June 2015 – How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester will host Town Hall Meetings on appealing your tax assessment.

  • Monday July 6, 2015 @ 7pm.
    Tucker Reid H. Cofer Library – 5234 Lavista Rd, Tucker, GA 30084
  • Wednesday July, 2015 1 @ 7pm
    Dunwoody City Hall, 41 Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody.

Residents may appeal by July 13, 2015.  It is recommended that you appeal your property assessment every four years whether you agree with the assessment or not.  The appeal will freeze your assessed value for three years.

(Note: By reading this blog, you agree this site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.  Email me if you need help finding somebody to handle your appeal.)
Rising property values have created a windfall in tax collections.  School tax assessments are based on the full appraised value and are not subject to the assessment freeze that limits the value upon which the county and cities can levy taxes.  So, any increase in your assessed value will translate into increased school taxes but may or may not increase your county/city government taxes.  In addition to feeling the full effect of rising property values through school tax collection, DeKalb has the 2nd highest millage rate in the state at 23.98 mills.
Georgia law requires that all personal property be appraised annually at its fair market value.  The DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department has an automated computer system appraising property values.  When you receive the Annual Assessment Notice, if you do not agree with the Current Year Value, you have 45 days to appeal.   Appeal of Assessment Form.
Before Getting Started
Approach this clinically and understand how the county values your property.  Do your homework and collect documentation.  Understand how the process works and what to expect in your 15 minute Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing.  This should be a relatively painless exercise.
Go to DeKalb County Property Search and check the accuracy of information the County has about your home.  The “Digest Year” is the year you received the Assessment Notice, 2015 in this case.  The Appraisal Year is Jan 1st thru Dec 31st for the year your house is being appraised, 2014 in this case.  When talking about Property Value, that includes the value of your home.
Valuation
Property owners may appeal based on Uniformity and/or Valuation.  Valuation uses the purchase price of similar homes sold during the Appraisal Year.  Square footage of the house and lot size as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are the key.  Foreclosed homes are valid comps, but the assessors often neglect to include them in the comps.
Comparables
Your property will be compared to 3 recent “resales” in your area known as Comps.  Use Zillow.com to find the comps in your area that sold during the Appraisal Year.  Selecting “Recently Sold” will display a yellow dot for all the recently sold houses around you.  Be sure to only use homes sold during the Appraisal Year.
Uniformity
Uniformity compares the assessed value of the property to the assessed value of other properties in the same neighborhood.  Calculate the price per square foot for all the houses around you in your neighborhood.  Get the average and compare that to the price per square foot of your house.  Note the lot size could affect the final assessed value.
Documentation
Write a letter explaining why you are appealing your appraisal.  Like a court case, include exhibits with facts, figures and pictures.  Label the exhibits and refer to them in your letter.  The more documentation you have the better.
Appeal of Assessment Form (download here)

  • Digest Year: 2015
  • Appeal Type: Real
  • Specifiy Grounds for Appeal: Check “Value” and “Uniformity” (This gives you the option to argue either one)
  • Path: Check “BOE” (The Boards of Equalization is free)
  • Property Owner Comments: Declare what you believe is the fair market value of your property and a short summary why.
  • Property Class: Residential
  • Sign it
  • Owner Declared Value: Take this question seriously and do some research before answering.  In your BOE hearing you will be asked how you arrived at that number.
  • Attach documentation
  • Mail to:

Property Appraisal Department
120 West Trinity Place, Room 208
Decatur, GA 30030
Process
By virtue of filing an appeal you will receive a 15% reduction of the appraised value automatically.  The Board of Assessments (BOA) will acknowledge receipt of the appeal by mail. Eventually, the Staff Appraiser reviews the property value and any owner concerns mentioned in the letter of appeal. The BOA reviews the appeal, renders a decision, and notifies the property owner in writing within 180 days.
When you receive the decision from the BOA, you are given the option to agree or refer the appeal to the Board Of Equalization (BOE).  If you agree, that value will be valid for one year and the process stops here.
You can disagree and select to take it to the BOE.  When you get the BOE hearing notice with the hearing date, call the BOA and ask for the Residential Sales Comparables Inventory and Account Value Summary they used to appraise your property.  This document will be the basis for the BOA’s case.  At the BOE hearing, ask to hear the BOA case first.  Take notes and address each item they present.  Make 5 copies of all the documentation you have.  When it’s time to present your case, distribute them to the interested parties. This shows them you are prepared, organized, have done your diligence, and have approached this in an objective manner.  Walk them through the differences in the properties and the costs that would be required to get your property up to the value of the comps provided by the BOA.
Once you have finished, if they believe you have made a case they may begin to negotiate with you on a compromised value.  Or they may thank you and inform you that you will receive a letter with their decision within “X” weeks.  If the latter is the case, you can ask to stay for their deliberation so that you can hear their thoughts.  However, you cannot speak during this time.  They will discuss their thoughts and advise the County’s Appraiser of their decision which will then be officially provided to you via mail.
If you take it to the BOE, the property value that comes out of that proceeding will last for 3 years.  It doesn’t hurt to take whatever decision to the BOE, most of the time it will be the same or less than what the BOA came back with and it will be good for 3 years.
If it goes to the BOE, it will be a year before everything is said and done.  The final assessed value will be retroactive to the Digest Year.
Board of Equalization (BOE)
The DeKalb County Board of Equalization is a panel of property owners appointed by a Grand Jury to serve the citizens of DeKalb County. These appointees are required to have at least a high school diploma, own real property in DeKalb County, and must complete at least 40 hours of certified training before they can serve on the Board of Equalization. Once a year, these board members must also complete 8 hours of continuous education training. The Board is charged by the O.C.G.A. 48-5-311 to hear appeals of property tax matters.