According to Cobb County Tax Commissioner Gail Downing, homeowners will face a property tax bill increase during the next two years. The state Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grant that previously funded a tax credit on homesteaded property will not be available this year or next.
“Declining state revenues during the current recession left the state without enough money to give the tax relief credits that homeowners have become accustomed to,” Downing said.
Most Cobb homeowners will see an increase of about $228 on their 2009 tax bills. Those with a School Tax Exemption will see an increase of about $77. Increases will vary for homeowners living within one of Cobb’s six cities.
In 1999, the governor and General Assembly appropriated the grant to counties, cities and schools, giving tax relief to homeowners in the form of a tax bill credit. According to legislation passed this year (House Bill 143), the grant will only be made available in the future if state revenues grow at least 3 percent plus the rate of inflation.
Downing believes giving homeowners advance notice will help them prepare for the increase when tax bills are issued in August. Homeowners can determine the exact amount of the 2009 increase by accessing their 2008 account information at www.cobbtax.org under the “Property Taxes” tab; search by parcel ID or address. The “Homeowners Tax Credit” deducted on the 2008 tax bill is the amount their bill will increase for 2009. Many homeowners with mortgages will need to make sure their tax escrow accounts are properly funded since their property taxes are paid by their mortgage company.
“It’s unfortunate in slow economic times to have to deliver this message, but homeowners need this information so they can budget accordingly,” Downing said.
The basic Homestead Tax Exemption is not going away. Homeowners who meet the basic Homestead Exemption requirements are still entitled to a $10,000 exemption in the county general and school general tax categories. This exemption remains in place along with many other property tax exemptions.
What is actually disappearing this year is the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant, and it pertains to ALL counties. To our knowledge, Cobb County is the only county talking about the change. It appears Cobb County wants the citizen property tax payers to know that the State of Georgia raised 2009 property taxes and not Cobb County.
Here’s some additional info from http://www.itepnet.org/ga0409.pdf
On the Chopping Block: The Homeowner Tax Relief Grant
While the legislature’s 2010 budget proposal uses a wide variety of spending cuts to close the state’s $2.6 billion shortfall, few of the cuts affect middle-income Georgians as directly as does the proposed repeal of the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant (HTRG). Through the HTRG program, the state of Georgia essentially pays most property taxes on the first $8,000 of a Georgia homestead’s assessed value. (Since Georgia homes are assessed for tax purposes at 40 percent of their market value, this is equivalent to exempting $20,000 of a home’s market value from tax.) Enacted almost a decade ago, the HTRG currently reduces Georgia homeowner property taxes by about $430 million a year.
Homestead exemptions such as the HTRG offer substantial tax benefits to homeowners at all income levels, but are especially valuable to middle- and low-income families because the $8,000 exemption represents a larger share of property taxes (and of income) for low-income taxpayers.