General Information

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 this site, CLICK HERE.

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.

Tax Bills
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).

Tax Returns
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.

Assessment Appeals
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
  • Arbitraion

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 Exemption
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).

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 tax year.

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 exemptions combined):

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

    Veterans Exemption
  • 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 $67,555

SENIOR EXEMPTIONS

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 the covenant.

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.

Brownfield 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. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for this assessment.

Timber
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