Georgia Legislative Recap 2021

The Georgia 2021 legislative session ended in early April. Below is a short recap of some of the property tax legislation that passed and will be signed into law. You can find the full text of each bill by searching on the Georgia Legislature’s website.

HB 282: Valuing Qualified Timberland. This bill adds definitions and valuation methodology for qualified timberland properties, a new class of property created by voter referendum in 2019.

HB 292: No Required Refresher Training for BOE Members. The vast majority of property tax appeals are heard by a board of equalization (BOE). BOE members are appointed by the county’s grand jury and serve a three year term. Many BOE members serve multiple terms. BOE members receive an initial 40-hour training on Georgia property tax valuation from the Department of Revenue. Prior to this bill, BOE members had to take a 20-hour refresher course after the expiration of their 3 year term and prior to beginning a new term. HB 292 removes the refresher course requirement – BOE members will not be required do any additional training after their initial 40-hour course.

HB 451: COVID-19 Relief for Manufacturers. This bill allows manufacturers to claim Freeport exemption on inventory at the 2020 or 2021 value. The intent of this bill was to give tax relief to manufacturers who may be holding surplus inventory due to COVID-19.

HB 575: Property Tax Millage Rate Reduction to be Offset by Sales Tax Increase. This bill sets up a local referendum for voters in Macon-Bibb County to approve the increase of a local option sales tax (LOST). The additional revenue would be used to offset property taxes by reducing the millage rate by 5 mills.

SB 144: Territorial Limitation on City Housing Authorities. Currently, city housing authorities can operate housing projects within a 10-mile zone outside its city limits. This bill would limit housing authorities to developing and operating housing projects only within their city limits. Existing projects outside the city limits will continue to operate.

SB 201: Limiting Metro Area Tax Commissioners’ Fees for Collecting City Taxes. This bill takes aim at the controversial salaries of Atlanta metro area tax commissioners, specifically the Fulton Tax Commissioner, who negotiated a steep contract to collect taxes on behalf of Fulton cities and making him the highest paid elected official in the state. This bill takes negotiation power away from the tax commissioner and allows the county commissioners to negotiate an agreement with the cities for tax collection.

SB 292: New Decatur City School Exemption for Seniors. This bill sets up a referendum for voters to approve a new senior school tax exemption for Decatur City schools in DeKalb County. If approved, low income seniors age 65-69 with an annual income less than $53,000 would have $200,000 of value exempt from school taxes, and all seniors age 70 and over would have $200,000 of value exempt. The exemption would be for tax years 2022 and 2023.

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