Frequently Asked Questions
State law requires that all property in Georgia be assessed at 40% of market value. The purpose of updating property values is to make sure that the assessed values reflect the change in property values based on current market conditions.
• To support administration of county government;
• To pay the principal and the interest on any debt of the county and to provide a sinking
• For educational purposes of property located outside of independent school systems;
• To build and repair public buildings and bridges;
• To pay expenses of courts and for the maintenance of inmates, to pay sheriffs and
coroners, and to pay for litigation;
• To build and maintain county roads;
• For public health purposes and preservation of records of vital statistics;
• To pay county police;
• To support indigent individuals;
• To pay county agricultural and home demonstration agents;
• To provide payment for assistance to aged individuals, the needy blind, dependent
children, and other welfare benefits;
• To provide for fire protection of forest lands and the conservation of natural resources;
• To provide hospitalization and medical care for the indigent sick people of the county;
• To acquire, improve, and maintain airports, public parks, and public libraries;
• To provide for workers' compensation and retirement of pension funds for officers and
• For public improvements as fixed by law;
• To pay pensions and costs under a teacher retirement system;
• For school lunches;
• To provide ambulance services;
• To provide financial assistance to county or municipal authorities to develop trade,
commerce, industry, and employment opportunities;
• To provide for public health and sanitation;
• To provide for financial assistance to county children and youth commissions providing
children and youth services.
State certified members of the Assessor's appraisal staff adjust property values annually based on previous year sales, cost and income data.
All property is taxable unless an exemption has been provided by law; taxation being the rule and exemption the exception.
Property exempted by O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-41 must not be used for private or corporate profit and income. The property exempted by the above code section does not apply to real estate or buildings which are rented, leased, or used for the purpose of securing an income. Any income must be used exclusively for religious, educational, and charitable purposes in order to maintain and operate the institutions.
The exemptions below that exempt colleges, nonprofit hospitals, incorporated academies, or other seminaries refer to those organizations that are open to the general public.
The following property has been exempted from taxation in this state:
• Property owned and used exclusively as the general state headquarters of a nonprofit corporation organized for the purpose of encouraging cooperation between parents and teachers to promote the education and welfare of children;
• All places of religious worship and burial; and all property owned by and operated exclusively as a church or other religious association that qualifies as an exempt religious organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
• Property owned by religious groups that is used as single-family houses where no income is derived from the property;
• Institutions of purely public charity;
• Buildings erected and used as a college, an incorporated academy, or other seminary of learning; but only if these institutions are open to the general public;
• All funds and property held or used as endowment by colleges, nonprofit hospitals, incorporated academies, or other seminaries of learning when the funds or property are not invested in real estate;
• All real and personal property of public libraries and any other literary associations;
• Books, philosophical apparatus, paintings, and statuary of any company or association that are kept in a public hall which are not held for profit or sale;
• Property which has been installed or constructed with the purpose of eliminating or reducing air or water pollution if certified by the Department of Natural Resources.
• Property of a nonprofit home for the aged and property of a nonprofit home for the mentally disabled as long as no income or profit is distributed to any private person when the home is qualified as an exempt organization under the United States Internal Revenue Code, section 501(c)(3), and O.C.G.A. Section 48-7-25.
• Property owned and used exclusively by a veterans organization which is chartered by the United States Congress which is exempted from federal income taxes;
• Property of nonprofit hospitals used in connection with their operation. This exemption does not include property owned by the nonprofit hospital which is held for investment purposes unrelated to providing medical care.
• Property owned and used exclusively as the headquarters, post home, or similar facility of a veterans organization which is chartered by the Congress of the United States and which is exempt from federal income taxes
• Property owned by a historical fraternal benefit association that is used exclusively for charitable, fraternal, and benevolent purposes.
• When the land on which commercial fertilizers are to be used has been taxed, consumers of commercial fertilizers are not required to report fertilizers for taxation. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-43)
Property taxes are charged against the owner of the property on January 1, and against the property itself if the owner is not known. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-9) Unless otherwise specified, property tax returns are to be filed with the county tax assessor's office who has been designated to receive returns throughout the year however, the deadline to file a return is April 1st for the year the return is being filed.
Real property is taxable in the county where the land is located, and personal property is taxable in the county where the owner maintains a permanent legal residence unless otherwise provided by law. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-11)
Taxes are due by November 15th, but this may vary from year to year. If taxes are not collected on the property, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold even though the property may have changed hands during the year. The property tax money collected by the local Tax Commissioner and used by government to pay for the support of services provided by the local and state government.
Taxpayers have 60 days from the date of billing to pay their property taxes.
The county tax commissioner is responsible for collecting property taxes for the county, school and state. For questions about billing you should contact the county tax commissioner. For questions about the valuation on your property you should contact the county board of tax assessors.
In Georgia property is required to be assessed at 40% of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-7)
Property is assessed at the county level by the Board of Tax Assessors. The State Revenue Commissioner is responsible for examining the 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)
The tax bills received by property owners from the counties 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. 48-5-2)
The tax rate, or millage, in each county is set annually by the board of county commissioners, or other governing authority of the taxing jurisdiction, and by the Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. The average county and municipal millage rate is 30 mills; the state millage rate in each county is 0.25 mills.
Municipalities also assess property taxes based upon county-assessed values and rates established by the municipal governing authority.
Property in Georgia is assessed at 40% of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law.
Example: The assessed value--40 percent of the fair market value--of a house that is worth $100,000 is $40,000. In a county where the millage rate is 25 mills the property tax on that house would be $1,000; $25 for every $1,000 of assessed value or $25 multiplied by 40 is $1,000.
The basic formula to figure the tax on a home using the Counties standard $2,000 homestead exemption is:
[(assessed value) - $2,000] * millage rate = tax due
Example: 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." Assessed value is 40% of the fair market value. If a person that owned a home with a fair market value of $100,000 in an unincorporated area of a county where the millage rate was 25.00 mills, that person's property tax would be $950.00--[(100,000 * 40%) - $2,000] * .02500 = $950.00. Multiply $100,000 by 40% which is equal to the assessed value of $40,000 and subtract the homestead exemption of $2,000 from the assessed value. Then multiply $38,000 by the millage rate of .02500 which is equal to $950.00.
The County Tax Assessor's Office is the best source of information for questions about:
•filing an appeal of your property tax assessment
•the appraised value on your home
•filing homestead exemptions
•receiving property tax returns
•maintaining property tax records and maps for the county.
The County Tax Commissioner's Office is the best source of information for questions about:
•paying your tax bill
•registration of your motor vehicle
•purchasing tax liens.
The State and Barrow County offer homestead exemptions to persons that own and occupy their home as a primary residence. Homestead applications may be filed with your county Board of Tax Assessors at any time before April 1st of the year the exemption going into effect.
Under Georgia law, all property is to be returned and assessed at fair market value every year (O.C.G.A. 48-5-6). Counties are required to establish a value as of January 1 of each year that meets the definition of fair market value' pursuant to O.C.G.A. 48-5-2. There is not a state mandated revaluation schedule, rather the counties annually review the values on the digest compared to sales data and if property values are determined to be either too low or too high then values are updated. The frequency of property updates can vary from county to county since some counties are experiencing tremendous growth and the real estate market in other counties is more static.
State law requires that your property be assessed at 40% of its fair market value as-of January 1st of each year. Fair market value of property 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. An arm’s length, bona fide sale means a transaction which has occurred in good faith without fraud or deceit, carried out by unrelated or unaffiliated parties each acting in his or her own self-interest, including but not limited to a distress sale, short sale, bank sale, or sale at public auction. The income approach, if data is available, shall be considered in determining the fair market value of income-producing property.
It is an update of all property values in Barrow County conducted under the direction of your local Board of Assessors. The Board of Assessors is a state-certified, five member board whose duties are to see that all property within the county is assessed (through the appraisal staff) at its fair market value. The Board also ensures that fair market values between individual owners are fairly and justly equalized, so that each owner shall pay only such taxpayer's proportionate share of taxes. The Assessor's department is not involved in the collection of property taxes.
Most property values will change, but all property will not change at the same rate. There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area, the sales may indicate a substantial change in value in a given year. In another neighborhood, there may be no change in property values. For example, one-story houses may be in more demand than two-story houses or vice versa. Older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes. Among the numerous factors to be considered that will cause values to differ are: location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, finished or unfinished basement, and garages. However, a change in assessment does not necessarily translate into higher taxes.
See the appeals section.
Georgia law provides a procedure for filing property tax returns and property tax appeals at the county level.
Taxpayers may file a property tax return (declaration of value) in one of two ways:
1. by paying taxes in the prior year on their property the value which was the basis for tax becomes the declaration of value for the current tax year (O.C.G.A. 48-5-20), or
2. by filing a PT-50R, PT50P, PT50A or PT50M return of value between January 1 and April 1 with the Board of Tax Assessors
3. The county Board of Tax Assessors must send an annual assessment notice which gives the taxpayer information on filing an appeal on real property (such as land and buildings affixed to the land). If the county board of tax assessors disagrees with the taxpayer’s return on personal property (such as airplanes, boats or business equipment and inventory), the board must send an assessment notice which gives the taxpayer information on filing an appeal. Upon receipt of this Assessment Notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the assessment may do so within 45 days of the date the Assessment Notice was mailed. The taxpayer’s appeal may be based on value, uniformity, taxability, exemption denied, breach of covenant, or denial of covenant.
The written appeal is filed initially with the Board of Tax Assessors.
The date of valuation is January 1st therefore; information presented during the appeal process should be based on the previous twelve months sales, listing of sales, and other data relevant to that specific time period.
Simply stating that property taxes are too high is not considered relevant information. You should establish in your mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence of this would be the recent sale price of your property. The next best evidence would be recent sales prices of properties that are very similar to yours, the closer in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is a recent appraisal of your property. Keep in mind, your evidence should be strong enough to substantiate your opinion of value.
Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. There are three types of sales and harvests that are taxable:
• lump sum sales where the timber is sold at a specific price regardless of volume,
• unit price sales where the timber is sold or harvested based on a specific price per volume,
• owner harvests where a land owner harvests his own timber and sells it by volume.