Tax Commissioner and Tax Assessors Office Located at:
Bulloch County Annex
113 North Main Street, Statesboro GA 30458
Office Hours 8 AM – 5 PM Monday thru Friday
Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source of revenue for governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property, which is established January 1st 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. 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 County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the Constitution and elected in all counties except one, is the official responsible for receiving tax returns filed by taxpayers; receiving and processing applications for homestead exemptions; serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles; and performing all functions related to billing, collecting, disbursing, and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county. In Bulloch County, the tax assessors have been lawfully delegated with receiving tax returns and receiving and processing applications for homestead exemptions.
The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioner(s) in all counties except one, is responsible for determining taxability, value and equalization of all assessments within the county. The County Board of Tax Assessors notifies taxpayers when changes are made to the value of the property; receive and review all appeals filed; and insures 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 (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the board of equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed).
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, establishes the budget for the county government operations each year, and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portions 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 then recommends their mill rate, which, with very few exceptions, must be levied for the school board by the county commissioner(s).
The State Revenue Commissioner exercises general oversight of the entire ad valorem tax process.
All property in Georgia is valued for ad valorem taxes based on its condition and use January 1.
The Georgia Public Revenue Code provides property owners the opportunity to furnish relevant information about their property by completing the Real Property Tax Return.
Returns must be filed if:
•you purchased property in the previous year
•you made any changes during the previous year that would affect the value of your property
•you wish to split or combine parcels
•you wish for the Tax Assessors to review the assessed value of your property
•if you acquired property by transfer during the previous year and no subdivision or improvements to the property have been made during the year of transfer, you are not required to file a property tax return if a properly completed PT-61 Real Estate Transfer Tax Form was filed with the Clerk of Superior Court and the tax is paid.
In addition to the Real Property Return, Personal Property Returns must be filed for Business personal property, boats and/or motors, and aircraft.
•Manufacturers or distributors with inventory may be eligible for Freeport Exemption.
•All reporting forms should be filed with the Bulloch County Board of Tax Assessors on or before April 1st each year. Failure to file timely returns could result in a 10% penalty. For further information, please contact the Board of Tax Assessors located at 115 North Main Street, Statesboro, Georgia or by calling (912)764-2181.
Several types of homestead exemptions have been enacted to reduce the burden of ad valorem taxation for Georgia homeowners. These 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 assessors office can explain them to you).
An applicant seeking a homestead exemption shall file a written application (in Bulloch County the application is filed with the tax assessors office) at any time during the calendar year subsequent to the property becoming the primary residence of the applicant up to and including the date for the closing of the books for the return of taxes for the calendar year which is currently April 1st of each year. Example: If you purchase a home in May, you can apply for homestead from the date of purchase through April 1st of the following year and homestead exemption will be effective for the year following the year of purchase.
Once granted, the homestead exemption is automatically renewed each year. The taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change in ownership of property or the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption.
Under the authority of the State Constitution, several different types of homestead exemptions are provided. In addition, local governments are authorized to provide for increased exemption amounts and several have done so. The tax assessors office in Bulloch County can answer questions regarding the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
Standard Homestead Exemption
The Home of each resident of Georgia that is actually occupied and used as the primary residence by the owner may be granted a $2,000 exemption from state, county and school taxes except for school taxes levied by municipalities and except to pay interest on and to retire bonded indebtedness. The $2,000 is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead. The owner of a dwelling house on a farm that is granted homestead exemption may also claim a homestead exemption in participation with the program of rural housing under contract with the local housing authority. (O.C.G.A 48-5-44)
Individuals 65 Years of age and older may claim an exemption from state tax on their home and 10 acres of land surrounding the home.
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim an exemption from all STATE ad valorem taxes on their home and up to 10 acres of land surrounding the home. Ad valorem taxes for state purposes will be due on the assessed value of the land that exceeds the 10 acre limitation. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48.3)
Individuals 65 Years of Age and Older May Claim a $4,000 Exemption
Individuals 65 years of age or over may claim a $4,000 exemption from all state and county ad valorem taxes if the income of that person and his spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The owner must notify the tax assessors office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47)
Individuals 62 Years of Age and Older May Claim an Additional Exemption for Educational Purposes
Individuals 62 years of age or over that are residents of each independent school district may claim an additional exemption from all ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire school bond indebtedness if the income of that person and his spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The owner must notify the tax assessors office if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. This exemption may not exceed $10,000 of the homestead’s assessed value. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52)
Floating Inflation-Proof Exemption
Individuals 62 Years of age or over may obtain a floating inflation-proof state and county homestead exemption, except for taxes to pay interest on and to retire bonded indebtedness, based on natural increases in the homestead’s value. If the appraised value of the home has increased by more than $10,000, the owner may benefit from this exemption. Income, together with spouse or any other person residing in the house can not exceed $30,000. This exemption does not affect any municipal or educational taxes and is meant to be used in the place of any other state and county homestead exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47.1)
Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse
Any qualifying disabled veteran may be granted an exemption of $100,896 from paying property taxes for state, county, municipal, and school purposes. The assessed value of the property in excess of this exemption remains taxable. This exemption is extended to the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children as long as they continue to occupy the home as a residence. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48)
Homestead Exemption for Surviving Spouse of U.S. Service Member
The unremarried surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in or died as a result of any war or armed conflict will be granted a homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal and school purposes in the amount of $100,896. The surviving spouse will continue to be eligible for the exemption as long as they do not remarry. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52.1)
Homestead Exemption for Surviving Spouse of Peace Officer or firefighter
The unremarried 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 as long as the applicant occupies the residence as a homestead. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48.4)
Property Tax Deferral Program
Georgia Law provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead property owners 62 and older with a gross income of $15,000 or less may defer but not exempt the payment of ad valorem taxes on 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.
With respect to all of the homestead exemptions, the Board of Tax Assessors makes the final determination as to eligibility. If the homestead application is denied, the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal procedure then is available to the taxpayer.
Specialized and Preferential Assessment Programs
Two general types of specialized of preferential assessment programs are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs authorizes assessment at 30% instead of 40% of the 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 and 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. Substantial penalties result if the covenant is broken.
Rehabilitated and Landmark Historic Property
Historic property that qualifies for listing on the Georgia or 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 real property receiving preferential assessment may not be changed for a period of nine years. Property under this special program must be certified by the Department of Natural Resources as rehabilitated historic property or landmark historic 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. It also allows an eligible owner to recoup the eligible costs associated with the cleanup of this type of property against their tax liability.
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 change must be sent to the property owner. Upon receipt of this notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the change in value must do so in writing within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors, which reviews the appeal filed and informs the taxpayer of its decision. If the Board of Tax Assessors makes no changes, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the County Board of Equalization. A hearing is scheduled, 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.
The assessment appeal may be made on the basis of 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 regarding the amount of taxes levied on the property.
The governing authority of any county or municipality may, subject to the approval of the electors of such political subdivision, except from ad valorem taxation, including all such taxes levied for educational purposes and for State purposes, all or any of the following types of tangible property.
Inventory of goods in the process of manufacture or production, which shall include all partly finished goods and raw materials, held for direct use or consumption in the ordinary course of the taxpayer’s manufacturing or production business in the State of Georgia.
Inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within the State of Georgia in the ordinary course of the taxpayer’s manufacturing or production business when held by the original manufacturer or producer of such finished goods. The exemption provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months from the date such property is produced or manufactured.
Inventory of finished goods which, on the first day of January, are stored in a warehouse, dock or wharf, whether public or private, and which are destined for shipment to a final destination outside the State of Georgia and inventory of finished goods which are shipped into the State of Georgia from outside the State and stored for transshipment to a final destination outside this State. The exemption provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months from the date such property is stored in this State.
For further details on Freeport exemption, readO.C.G.A. 48-5-48.2in its entirety or contact the Tax Assessors office in Bulloch County.