Every spring, home buyers are filing for Homestead Exemption in Metro Atlanta.
Don’t leave money on the table! For this post, we asked Pam Robinson with closing attorneys Neel, Robinson and Stafford, LLC to simplify the Homestead Exemption process for us. So, Pam, thanks so much for your help on this!
What is a Homestead Exemption
It is a Tax Savings. When it comes to Property Taxes, a homeowner is entitled to a “homestead exemption” on their personal home and land underneath provided the home was owned by the homeowner and was their legal residence as of January 1 of the taxable year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40) Buyers only have to file for this once following their purchase. After that initial filing, it stays in place in subsequent years. Typically, when someone buys a home (other than an investment property) there is Homestead Exemption in place through the current owner. When that property is sold, the Homestead Exemption will drop off. The new buyer must then apply for the Homestead Exemption so it can be reinstated under their name. If a new Buyer does not file for their Homestead Exemption by the county imposed deadline, the taxes will be higher than the previous year because the Homestead Exemption was not in place. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions of the deadline is missed. The only action to take is to file for the Homestead Exemption as soon as possible so that the exemption will be in place for the next year.
What and/or Who Qualifies?
You only get one homestead exemption at a time and it is on your primary residence. To be granted a homestead exemption, a person must actually live in the home and the home is considered their legal primary residence for all purposes. Persons that are away from their home because of health reasons will not be denied homestead exemption. If this is the case, a family member or friend can notify the tax receiver or tax commissioner and the homestead exemption will be granted. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)
How Do You Apply?
Homestead Exemptions applications must be filed by April 1. Applications filed after this date will not be granted until the next calendar year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)
Failure to apply by the deadline will result in loss of the exemption for that year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)
Applications for homestead exemption must be filed with the tax commissioner’s office, or in some counties the tax assessor’s office who has been delegated to receive applications for homestead exemption. Filing for Home Exemptions is a one time event.
A homeowner can file an application for homestead exemption for their home and land any time during the calendar year. We suggest you apply at least 30 days in advance of the filing deadline to allow plenty of time for the tax office to review your application. To receive the homestead exemption for the current tax year, the homeowner must have owned the property on January 1 and filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in the county.
Exemptions Offered by the State and Counties
The State of Georgia offers homestead exemptions to all qualifying homeowners. In some counties they have increased the amounts of their homestead exemptions by local legislation above the amounts offered by the State. As a general rule the exemptions offered by the county are more beneficial to the homeowner.
What is needed to Apply?
Yes, this is a bit of a pain. Here is a quick checklist to help you achieve success in just one trip:
- Driver’s License – that matches the property address
- Social Security Number
- Motor Vehicle Registration(s) – that matches the property address
- Warranty Deed – book and page numbers (recorded copy received from closing attorney 3-4 months after closing)
- Mortgage Statement – proof of residence
- HUD-1 Closing Statement (received at closing)
Below are links to the various Metro Atlanta Counties:
Cherokee County – deadline is April 1 678-493-6120
Clayton County – deadline is April 1 770-477-3311
Cobb County – deadline is April 1 770-528-8600
DeKalb County – deadline is April 1 404-298-4000
Douglas County – deadline is April 1 770-920-7272
Fayette County – deadline is April 1 770-461-3652
Forsyth County – deadline is April 1 770-781-2106
Fulton County – deadline is April 1 404-612-6440
Gwinnett County – deadline is April 1 770-822-8800
Henry County – deadline is April 1 770-288-8180
Paulding County – deadline is April 1 770-443-7606
This is our best effort to provide a quick convenient resource to get started. It is not the be all/end all. The links could stop working. The municipal websites could change. Life is not perfect! Hopefully, though, this will still save you some time.