On November 8, 2022, Athens-Clarke County residents voted to increase the current homestead exemption on property taxes from $10,000 to $25,000 and to create a new low-income base year assessed value homestead exemption.
In general terms, homestead exemptions help lower some property taxes for those residents who own property on which they reside. Qualifications and definitions are included in state law (O.C.G.A. 48-5-40). Additional qualifications apply to the low-income county portion of the homestead exemption.
Homestead exemptions reduce the amount on which property taxes are assessed, which is 40% of the fair market value. For a home valued at $200,000, the assessed taxable value would be $80,000. The new Athens-Clarke County homestead exemption would further reduce this amount to $55,000, the amount on which taxes would be assessed.
Any person who has previously applied for and qualified for a homestead exemption and would continue to qualify for a homestead exemption on the same property will receive the increased exemption amount of $25,000 automatically each year without further application.
While new applications for homestead exemptions are accepted throughout the year, an applicant must own the property on January 1, 2023 and apply by April 1, 2023 in order to receive the exemption on the current year’s 2023 taxes that are due by October 20, 2023.
Once a person has applied for and qualifies for a standard homestead exemption on a property, they do not have to reapply each year so long as they continue to meet the criteria for a homestead exemption on that property. A person who moves or otherwise qualifies for homestead on a different property must submit a new application for homestead on that property.
The low-income category is a new category for Athens-Clarke County residents who meet federal poverty guidelines. It provides an exemption in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of that homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of that homestead.
For example, if a resident with a low-income exemption has their base year assessment established as $90,000 and the homesteaded property increases in assessed value in a later year to $100,000, they would only pay the ad valorum taxes on the earlier established base value and not the $10,000 additional increase.
Qualified applicants for the low-income category are granted an exemption on that person’s homestead from ad valorem taxes only for Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) purposes, not on state or local school district ad valorem taxes.
In order to qualify, a person’s household income for the immediately preceding year cannot exceed 200% of the income level based on the household size published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services as the 2022 United States Federal Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia.
Based on these income figures, a household of one could not exceed $27,180; a household of two could not exceed $36,620; a household of three could not exceed $46,060; and a household of four could not exceed $55,500. Figures are available up to a 14-person household.
Any person seeking the new low-income homestead exemption will need to contact the Tax Commissioner’s Office by calling 706-613-3120 to schedule an appointment to verify their eligibility.
Applicants must own the property as of January 1, 2023 and apply by April 1, 2023 in order to apply for the low-income exemption for 2023 taxes. Although 2022 federal income taxes are not due until April 18, 2023, a filed and signed copy of the Federal IRS 1040 form and supporting information is required by the April 1 deadline along with a current Georgia driver’s license or ID at the time of application.
For qualified 2023 applicants, the base value for the low-income exemption will be the 2021 or the 2022 tax value, whichever is lowest.
The low-income exemption will be automatically renewed from year to year as long as the owner occupies the residence as a homestead and does not exceed the income limit. Residents will be required to submit annually a copy of their federal income tax return for the prior calendar year in order to continue the exemption.
Once established, a property’s base value remains in effect from year-to-year for the owner as long as low-income qualifications continue to be met. If a person does not meet the eligibility requirements for the low-income homestead exemption during any given year, the person will not receive the exemption. If the person meets the eligibility requirements at a later date, then the base year shall be recalculated as if the application were a new application.
In all other cases, any new homestead application that qualifies for the low-income exemption will have the county portion of the taxable value frozen at the previous year’s value. The base value can be updated if additional land or improvements are added to the homestead after January 1 of the base year. If any real property is removed from the homestead, the base year assessed value shall be adjusted to reflect such removal.
For more information, visit the Tax Commissioner’s website at www.accgov.com/tc or call 706-613-3120.
Low-Income Homestead Exemption Flowchart