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 Columbia 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 approve all Homestead Exemptions claimed by the Taxpayers of Columbia County.
The Columbia 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 Columbia County, GA Commission 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 Columbia 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 Columbia 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.
Property tax bills are normally mailed out by September 15th of each year. Taxes are to be paid by November 15th of the same year.
The Columbia 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.The address to submit appeals:
For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia, please visit the State of Georgia Local Government Services Division website.
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).
The homestead of each residence of the State of Georgia actually occupied as a residence and homestead on January 1 of the tax year may be exempted from certain ad valorem taxation providing the exemption is returned and claimed in the manner prescribed by law and approved by the County Board of Assessors. All exemptions must be filed with the Tax Commissioner's Office between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Applications are accepted from January 1 through April 1 each year for the current tax year. Failure to make application within the prescribed time frame constitutes a waiver of the exemption for that tax year. Georgia law does not provide for an extension time for filing. All exemptions, once approved, are automatically renewed each year until eligibility changes unless exceptions are noted.
Documents Required with Homestead Exemption Application
Depending upon which application is completed, one or more of the following items shall be required:
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.
Registration of Mobile Homes:
There are two categories of mobile homes, personal and real. A personal property mobile home is a mobile home that is taxed alone without the property. A real property mobile home is taxed with the land, and may qualify for a homestead exemption. The following are items needed when registering either type of mobile home.
Personal Property includes boats and motors, tractors, farm equipment, and machinery. Furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory, and supplies are also personal property for businesses. Ownership of personal property is established January 1 of each year. Appraisers from the Tax Assessor's Office place values on personal property and mail notices in May of each year. Disputed values must be appealed within 45 days. This appeal must be in writing. The Tax Commissioner's Office will mail the personal property tax bill at least 60 days prior to the due date, which is usually mid-November of each year. Ninety (90) days after a bill becomes delinquent, a lien (Fi Fa) is recorded with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Heavy duty equipment purchased from a dealer by an individual or business is subject to ad valorem tax in the year of purchase. Within 30 days of the end of the month in which the purchase was made, a return must be completed and submitted to the Tax Commissioner. Tax is computed based on 40% of the purchase price, times the millage rate, times 33 1/3%, and is then prorated for the number of months remaining in the calendar year.
Beginning January 1, 1992, all timber harvests or sales must be reported on Department of Revenue form PT-283T. There are three different reports of timber tax:
The PT-283T form can be obtained in the Columbia County Tax Commissioner's Office. The Tax Commissioner's telephone number is (706) 261-8299.
630 Ronald Reagan Drive
Building C, 2nd Floor
Evans, GA 30809
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PO Box 3030
Evans, GA 30809
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