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 as set forth by the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A. 48-5-7). 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. 48-5-311) 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).
To reference the Official Code of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Revenue sponsors
a web site where the non-annotated version of the O.C.G.A. can be viewed. To view
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 County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by
the county commissioners, is responsible for the appraisal, assessment, and the
equalization of all assessments within the county. They notify taxpayers as
to the value of property, receive and review all appeals filed, and insure 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
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, 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 County 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 County Tax Commissioner, an 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.
Generally, Coweta County property taxes are due by December 1.
If taxes are not paid on the property, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold.
When mailing in tax payments a United States Postal Service post mark will be accepted
(not metered post marks).
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable
property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1 of that tax year.
The tax return is a listing of the property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s
declaration of the value of their property.
Property tax returns are filed with the Tax Commissioner's Office between January
1 and April 1 of each year. After the taxpayer has filed the initial tax return
for real property, the law provides for an automatic renewal of
that return each succeeding year at the value determined for the preceding year
and the taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is
acquired, improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur.
Personal property tax returns are required to be filed each year.
A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to
declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied
with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Tax Assessors. This
initiates the taxpayer's appeal process if the declared value is not accepted by
the Board of Tax Assessors.
The Board of Tax Assessors is required to issue a notice
of assessment on real and personal property each year. If the property owner desires
to appeal the assessment with the Tax Assessor's Office, they must do so in writing
within 45 days of mailing.
The appeal may be based on the taxability, value, uniformity and/or the denial of
the exemption. The written appeal must also contain the desired method of appeal.
There are three methods of appeal:
- Board of Equalization
- Hearing Officer
The property owner may contact the Tax Assessor's Office at 770-254-2680 for more
information regarding the appeal process and the methods of appeal or go to their
website at www.cowetatax.com.
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
To receive the benefit of the homestead exemption the taxpayer must file an initial
application. In Coweta County the application is filed with the Tax Commissioner’s
Office. First time homeowners should bring a copy of their warranty deed
to insure their application is filed correctly. With respect to all of the homestead
exemptions the Board of Assessors makes the final determination as to eligibility;
however, if the application is denied the taxpayer must be notified and an appeal
procedure is then available to the taxpayer.
Georgia law allows for the year-round filing of homestead applications but the application
must be received on or before April 1 of the year for which the
exemption is first claimed by the taxpayer. Homestead applications received
after that date will be applied to the next
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.
Under authority of the State Constitution several different types of homestead exemptions
are provided. These are called State Exemptions. In addition, local
governments are authorized to provide for increased exemption amounts. These are
called Local County Exemptions. Coweta County has such local county
exemptions. The Local County Exemptions supersede the State Exemptions
when the Local Exemption amount is greater than the State Exemption amount. The
Tax Commissioner's Office and Tax Assessor's Office can answer questions regarding
the standard exemptions as well as any local exemptions that are in place.
Available Coweta County Homesteads (these are State & Local
Regular Homestead Exemption - No income requirements
- No income requirements
- $2,000 for State and School Purposes
- $10,000 for County Purposes
- Must own and occupy home as of January 1 of current tax year
- Must be 100% disabled-service connected
- Letter from Veteran Affairs verifying disability
- Unremarried surviving spouse or minor children may also qualify
- Currently this exemption amount is $64,960
Senior State Exemption
Owner(s) must be 65 as of January 1. This exemption will exempt the owner(s) from
state tax on the home and up to ten (10) acres of land. Once you qualify for one
of the age 65 local exemptions you will automatically receive this exemption.
State School Exemption - $10,000
- Age 62 and over prior to January 1 of year applied
- Income of all members of household can not have exceeded $10,000 in the previous
year. Do not include social security and retirement income, but subject to
state limitations. Income documentation may be requested by the Tax Assessor's Office.
Local School Exemption #1
Owner must be 65 or totally disabled as of January 1 of the tax year. Total gross
household income must not have exceeded $12,500 for the previous year. Include social
security and retirement income. If not 65, but totally disabled, owner must be unable
to seek gainful employment and must have letter from doctor verifying disability.
This exemption will exempt owner from school tax on the home and up to 1 acre of
land. School taxes are still due on balance of property (if any).
Local School Exemption #2
Owner must be 65 or totally disabled as of January 1 of the tax year. Total gross
household income must not have been less than $12,500 or greater than $25,000 for
the previous year. Include social security and retirement income. If not 65, but
totally disabled, owner must be unable to seek gainful employment and must have
letter from doctor verifying disability. This exemption will exempt owner from school
taxes on the first $20,000 of assessed value of the property.
Local School Exemption #3
Based on AGE as of January 1 of tax year. No income restrictions.
Age 65-70 = $40,000 Exemption
Age 71-74 = $60,000 Exemption
Age 75+ = $80,000 Exemption
Note – School Tax is due on remaining assessment value over exemption limit.
Property Tax Deferral Program
In addition to the various homestead exemptions that are authorized, the law also
provides a Property Tax Deferral Program whereby qualified homestead
property owners 62 and older with gross household income of $15,000 or less may
defer but not exempt the payment of ad valorem taxes on a 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.
Specialized and Preferential Assessment Programs
Three general types of specialized or preferential assessment programs
are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs
authorizes assessment at 30% rather than 40% of 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 land property,
environmentally sensitive property, or residential transitional property be valued
and assessed for ad valorem tax purposes at its current use value rather than its
fair market value.
Another type of specialized assessment is a program available for qualifying Forest
Land properties of at least 200 acres.
Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owner to
covenant (or contract) with the Board of Tax Assessors to maintain the property
in its qualified use for 10 or more 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 and the penalties for breach of
Rehabilitated and Landmark Historic Property
Historic property that qualifies for listing on the Georgia 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 Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions
regarding property qualifying for this assessment.
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. The Board of
Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property
qualifying for this assessment.
Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed
based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. This value is then multiplied by
the appropriate mill rate to determine the tax amount due.
Mobile/Manufactured Home Permits
Owners of mobile homes that are located in Coweta County on January 1 must pay the
ad valorem taxes on the home by May 1 of each year and obtain their location permit
at that time. Failure to pay the taxes and obtain the permit will result in a 10%
tax penalty, issuance of a citation for appearance in Magistrate Court or possible
sale of the mobile/manufactured home.
Mobile home owners desiring to declare a different value from the existing value
on the home must file a tax return with the Board of Tax Assessors
between January 1 and April 1.
For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia please visit the State
of Georgia Local Government Services Division website at http://www.etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/index.aspx