Ad Valorem Tax Process

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 (O.C.G.A. 48-5-7). Fair market value means "the amount knowledgeable a 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).

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 Polk County, GA Tax Assessor is responsible for the appraisal, assessment, and the equalization of all assessments within the county. They notify taxpayers when changes are made 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 Polk County, GA 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 Polk County, GA Commission 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 Polk County, GA 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 Polk County, GA Tax Commissioner, an elected 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. The Tax Commissioner does not set value or the millage rates.

Tax Bills

Property tax bills and normally mailed out by October 1st of each year. Taxes are to be paid by December 1st of the same year.

Tax Returns

In accordance with Georgia law, all property held and subject to taxation on January 1 of the tax year, shall be returned by the owner to the Tax Assessor’s Office between January 1 and April 1 of that tax year. Any taxpayer who fails to return his property for taxation shall be deemed to have returned for taxations the same property at the same final valuation as and same real property exemptions as for the preceding year.A property owner who is dissatisfied with the assessed value of their property may also file a return stating their opinion of the true Fair Market Value of the property as of January 1 of the tax year. This will establish appeal right if the value is changed again by the Tax Assessor’s Office.
Tax Returns

Address Changes

Property owners must notify the Tax Assessor’s Office or Tax Commissioner’s Office immediately of any change in their mailing address. Georgia law requires that all tax notices are sent to the taxpayer at their last know address.

Mobile/Manufactured Home Permits

Owners of mobile homes that are located in Polk County, GA on January 1 must pay the ad valorem taxes by December 31st of each year. After the due date there is a 10% filing penalty and 1% per month fee is added. If the taxes are not paid, there is a fifa filed on the docket in the clerk of superior court. The mobile home will be sold at auction.

Mobile home taxes are due by December 31st unless the mobile home is homesteaded in which case they are taxed the same as real property. All mobile homes must display a current decal. The decal is provided upon payment of the taxes each year. Mobile home owners who qualify for homestead exemption for their mobile home may obtain a current decal from the Tax Commissioner’s Office. To qualify for homestead on a mobile home, the owner of the mobile home and the property on which it is located must be the same, and the owner must qualify for a regular homestead as mentioned earlier in this bulletin. The fair market and assessed values of mobile homes are set by the Tax Assessors’ Office. The fair market value may be appealed by filing an appeal with the Tax Assessors’ Office. For more information regarding appeals, contact the Tax Assessors’ Office at 770-749-2108.

Mobile home owners desiring to declare a different value from the existing value on the home have 45 days to file an appeal from the date the bills are mailed with the Board of Tax Assessors. If a taxpayer is dissatisfied with the value change or corrections, the taxpayer has the right to appeal to the Board of Equalization within 21 days of the date of the notice.

Homestead Exemptions

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).

The homestead of each residence of the State of Georgia actually occupied as a residence and homestead on January 1 of the tax year may be exempted from certain ad valorem taxation providing the exemption is returned and claimed in the manner prescribed by law and approved by the County Board of Assessors. All exemptions must be filed with the Tax Commissioner’s Office at 144 West Ave, Cedartown GA 30125 between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Applications are accepted from January 1 through April 1 each year for the current tax year. Failure to make application within the prescribed time frame constitutes a waiver of the exemption for that tax year. Georgia law does not provide for an extension time for filing. All exemptions, once approved, are automatically renewed each year until eligibility changes unless exceptions are noted.

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.
LGS Homestead Application

Types of Homestead Exemptions

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. Polk County, GA 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.
(No exemption will exceed the tax liability)

S1 - Regular Homestead Exemption
Prior to January 1 of the tax year, the owner of the property must occupy the property as their primary residence. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-44). Exemption Amounts include $20,000 off the assessed value on the county M&O, $2,000 off school (county), $2,000 off of the state portion and *if* you reside within Polk County, GA you will receive $10,000 off of the City and City School Tax

S3 - Elderly Age 62
In addition to the S1 requirements, individuals who are 62 years of age prior to January 1 of the current tax year that are residents of either the City school district or County school district may claim an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire school bond indebtedness if the earned income of tax payer and his or her spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is not considered earned income and is excluded up to the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his or her spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum benefit is $60,312. The owner must notify the county Tax Commissioner if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52)

Exemption Amounts include $20,000 off the assessed value on the county M&O, $10,000 off school (county), $2,000 off of the state portion and *if* you reside within the Polk County, GA you will receive $20,000 off of the City and City School Tax.

SC - Elderly Age 65
In addition to the S1 requirements - taxpayer must be 65 years of age prior to January 1 of the current tax year. No Income requirements. *100% of the home and up to 10 acres of land are exempt for the State portion only. Polk County, GA has two additional exemptions. For local school tax exemptions call our office. The owner must notify the county Tax Commissioner if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-47)

S5 - Disabled Veteran
In addition to the S1 requirements, any qualifying Disabled Veteran will receive an exemption of $50,000 off of state, county, municipal, and school purposes. The value of the property in excess of this exemption remains taxable. This exemption is extended to the un-remarried surviving spouse or minor children. Please contact the Tax Commissioner's office for further requirements and documents needed. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-48)

SD - Age 65 Disabled Veteran
In addition to the S1 requirements the Disabled Veteran or Unremarried Surviving Spouse and/or minor child as long as they continue to occupy the home as a residence will receive a 100% exemption on home and up to 10 acres of land for STATE portion ONLY, an additional $50,000 for the remaining state portion, county, municipal, and school purposes on the value of the property in excess of 10 acres. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-48)

SS - Un-remarried Surviving Spouse
The surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in any war or armed conflict will be granted a homestead exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal and school purposes in the amount of $50,000 the surviving spouse will continue to be eligible for the exemption as long as they do not remarry. Please contact the Tax Commissioner’s office for further requirements and documents needed. (O.C.G.A 48-5-52.1)

S4 - Elderly Age 65
In addition to the S1 requirements, individuals who are 65 years of age prior to January 1 of the current tax year that are residents of either the City school district or County school district may claim an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes for educational purposes and to retire school bond indebtedness if the earned income of the tax payer and his or her spouse does not exceed $10,000 for the prior year. Income from retirement sources, pensions, and disability income is not considered earned income and is excluded up to $52,440 the maximum amount allowed to be paid to an individual and his or her spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The owner must notify the county Tax Commissioner if for any reason they no longer meet the requirements for this exemption. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-52).

Exemption Amounts include 100% off home and up to 10 acres of land and an additional $4,000 off of the state portion, $20,000 off of the assessed value on the county M&O, $35,000 off school (county), and *if* you reside within Polk County, GA you will receive $75,000 off of the City and City School Tax.

S4-7 - Elderly Age 70
Local Exemption Age 70 (S4-7) and over Elderly Exemption For Polk County, GA School taxes

In addition to the requirements for S1, the tax payer(s) must be age 70 or over prior to January 1 of the current tax year. Income requirement for this local exemption from school taxes will apply if the earned income of the tax payer and his or her spouse does not exceed $35,000 for the prior year. Exemption amounts are in addition to the S4 as listed above, please contact our Tax Department to obtain further information

Specialized and Preferential Assessment Programs

Polk County, GA has several types of preferential assessments.

They are the Conservation Use and Residential Transitional Property (Statewide Ref. GA Code Ann. 48-5-7.4), the Preferential Assessment for Agricultural Property (Statewide Ref. GA Code Ann. 48-5-7.4.1), and the Rehabilitated Historic Property (Statewide Ref. GA Code Ann. 48-5-7.2).

Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owner to covenant with the Tax Assessor to maintain the property in its qualified use for at least 10 years in order to qualify for the preference. The Tax Assessor can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for either of these programs. Please contact this office at 706-275-7410.

Assessment Appeals

The Polk County, GA Board of Assessors’ appraisal staff determines your property values based on recent sales and market conditions. These values are based on the condition of the property as of January 1st of the tax year. The Board of Tax Assessors is required to issue a notice of assessment for taxable real and personal property which states the value of said property. These notices are generally mailed in the Spring of each year.

If the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the value placed on the property, the taxpayer has the right to appeal this value within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal may be based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. The written appeal must initially be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors and must state their chosen method of appeal.

Additional information on assessment appeals may be obtained from the Tax Assessors’ Office.

For further information regarding property taxation in Georgia, please visit the State of Georgia Local Government Services Division website.