The 2018 Legislative session came to a close on March 29, 2018. A number of property tax bills passed and now await Governor Deal’s signature (and in some cases, a referendum vote in November). Here’s a few highlights (with links to the bills in blue):
- New Homestead Exemptions: Residents of Fulton County and several Fulton cities may benefit from new Homestead exemptions in 2019. Each new exemption must be approved by Governor Deal and voters in November 2018:
- 3% cap on increases for Fulton County school taxes (SB 317) and a new $50,000 homestead exemption for seniors over 65 from Fulton County taxes (HB 1064)
- City of Atlanta residents will benefit from an increase of the existing Homestead exemption for Atlanta school taxes from $30,000 to $50,000 (SB 485) and a new 2.6% cap on increases of City of Atlanta municipal taxes (HB 820)
- 3% cap on increases for city taxes in Roswell (HB 707), Johns Creek (HB 708), Milton (HB 710), Mountain Park (HB 711), and Alpharetta (HB 712)
- Unfortunately, the proposed $100,000 exemption from City of Atlanta school taxes for seniors did not pass (SB 486)
- Spalding County Homestead Exemption. Spalding County residents over age 65 will be able to apply for a new exemption from school taxes if HB 1028 is signed by the Governor and approved by voters this fall.
- Changes to Property Tax Appeals: HB 374 imposes stricter 180 day deadlines on tax assessors when reviewing property owners’ appeals. The value threshold for appealing to a hearing officer is reduced from $750,000 to $500,000 for non-homestead properties. The bill also lengthens the amount of time that property owners can appeal to superior court from 10 days to 20 days.
- CUVA changes. Property owners seeking a conservation use valuation assessment (CUVA) covenant will face less barriers – no survey requirements, relaxed restrictions on non-profit entity types that can own CUVA property, and a new option for early termination for some family owned farming entities. In addition, property owners who challenge alleged CUVA breaches in superior court and prevail will be able to recover attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation from the tax assessors. (SB 458)
- New Timberland Registry: HB 85 creates a new registry for timberland properties with the Department of Revenue. Property owners must make a return to the DOR by April 1 each year. The bill also reduces the FLPA covenant (the time during which timberland owners can benefit from lower property taxes) from 15 years to 10 years. This bill requires a voter referendum in November 2018.
In addition to the changes made by the bills above, the House will convene a study committee over the summer on reforming property taxation. I will continue to monitor the progress of the bills that require a voter referendum in November and will report on the outcome here and in my newsletter (click here to receive a copy).