January 1st is a very important date as a new homeowner. In all counties, if you are the property owner on record as of the 1st, you are eligible for a Homestead Tax Exemption if you meet certain criteria. Even though property taxes will not be due until later in the year, now is the time to apply and save money.
PROPERTY TAX BILLS
- Unless you gave an alternative address prior to your closing, tax bills will be mailed to your property address, addressed to the owner on record as of January 1st that year. Note: if you purchased your home on January 2nd, the bill will be in the name of the former owner and runs the risk of being forwarded to your seller by USPS.
- Even if the bill is addressed to the former owner, or you don’t receive a copy in the mail, it is still your responsibility to pay the full tax bill, as the seller paid their prorated portion to you at closing.
- If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, your taxes will be paid out of your mortgage escrow account by the lender. However, it is always a good idea to contact your lender to confirm amounts and payment.
- County records take a while to update, so do not be worried if your seller’s name still shows as the owner online.
Your recorded Warranty Deed is your proof of the transfer of title.
Simply put, Homestead Exemption reduces the taxable value of your home (in Georgia, up to about 40% of the fair market value). Furthermore, it exists to protect a person’s primary residence in the time of financial hardship, like from death of a spouse.
If you occupy your home as your principal residence, you are both eligible and required to file for a Homestead Exemption with the Tax Assessor of your county after the 1st of the year following your closing and before April 1st. Once you have applied and qualified, this exemption is automatically renewed each year as long you continue to occupy the home under the same ownership.
Filing for Homestead Exemption
- When filing for Homestead Exemption, you will need name, property address, email address, and Property ID. Don’t have your Property ID? Get in touch with us and we’ll get it for you ASAP.
- While some states offer automatic filing, Georgia does not. You must apply for Homestead Exemption on your own, through an in-person, online, or mail posted form. Note: each county has a different filing window for requesting the tax exemption, so please consult the websites below for your county’s guidelines.
- You may also be required to file for a homestead exemption with the city tax department if your home is located within the Atlanta city limits (see below).
Dekalb County / City of Decatur – Own a home here and you are required to file with both the County (saves about 2/3 of your County value) and the City (saves you almost $20k off your assessed value). File here: www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner and here: www.decaturga.com/city-government/city-departments/administrative-services/taxes-and-fees/homestead-exemption-form
Dekalb County / City of Atlanta – File online with the County and it will automatically file within the City. This will save you about $30,000 of your City value, and 2/3 off your Country value. File here: www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner
City of Atlanta / Fulton County – File online with the County and it will automatically file within the City. This will save you about $30,000 of your City value, and $10,000 off your Country value. File here: http://www.qpublic.net/ga/fulton/basic_homestead.html
Cherokee County – http://qpublic.net/ga/cherokee/exemptions.html
Cobb County – http://www.cobbtax.org/property/exemptioninformation
Fulton County – http://www.qpublic.net/ga/fulton/basic_homestead.html
Paulding County – http://www.paulding.gov/index.aspx?NID=210
In addition to basic homestead exemption there are additional exemptions for residents age 62 and older and/or disabled and disabled veterans. You must apply for these exemptions in person. Find out more about them by clicking on your particular county from the link list above.