City Schools of Decatur, city commission working to update senior homestead tax exemptionsElizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board is working on updating the senior homestead tax exemption for seniors related to school taxes. The board passed the current exemption in 2021, which will expire at the end of 2023.
The current exemptions for school taxes are:
– S-6 exemption: homeowners age 70 and above are eligible for a reduction of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value) without an income cap.
– S-5 exemption: provides an exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value) for seniors aged 65-69 with a household federal adjusted gross income less than $53,000.
“The [school board] has reviewed the data from the last tax digest to help inform if any adjustments should be made in the next senior tax exemption as they work with our legislators on getting a new five-year exemption approved in the 2023 session,” the school board newsletter states. “The board plans to vote on a resolution for the next senior tax exemption at the regular board meeting in December.”
The school board is not considering making any changes to the S-6 exemption. Although the board is looking at increasing the dollar amount of the household adjusted income for seniors ages 65-69 from $53,000 to $62,000 for the S-5 exemption. The school board is also looking to maintain the exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value).
The tax exemption for CSD will have to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly and will be on the ballot in November 2023 as a referendum.
The city of Decatur is updating its homestead tax exemption as well for city taxes. The city is looking to increase aspects of the general homestead exemptions, increase the income limit for the tax deferral program and create an exemption for owner-occupied homes on land managed through the Decatur Land Trust.
The city commission requested a review of the general homestead exemptions and the Tax Deferral for the Elderly program based on recommendations in the 2020 Affordable Housing Task Force Report. The review also included recommendations for addressing property tax relief for owner-occupied residential homes, particularly for residents who are 62 or older and those with fixed or low incomes, City Manager Andrea Arnold wrote in a memo.
“The City Commission has expressed interest in property tax relief for persons who own their homes and are impacted by increasing property values,” Arnold said. “Additionally, there is a desire to ensure that resident property owners on Decatur Land Trust properties are afforded a homestead exemption similar to the City’s general homestead exemption.”
Here are the recommended changes to the homestead tax exemptions:
– Increase the General Homestead Exemption (GH-1) for all residential owner-occupied properties from $25,000 to $40,000; and,
– Increase the General Homestead Exemption (GH-2) for residential owner-occupied properties for persons 65 years of age or older from $10,000 to $15,000; and,
– Increase the General Homestead Exemption (GH-3) for residential owner-occupied properties for persons 62 years of age or older whose Georgia net taxable household income does not exceed $50,000 from $15,000 to $25,000 and adjust the household income limit from $50,000 to $60,000.
– Create a Community Land Trust Homestead Exemption (LT-1) in the amount of $40,000 for residents who hold owner-occupied real property that is subject to a written land lease having an initial term of not less than 99 years with a landlord that is an entity exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and who own all improvements located on the real property; and,
– Increase the gross household income for eligibility in the Tax Deferral for the Elderly program for all residential owner-occupied properties from $20,000 to $60,000. For the tax deferral program, a portion of the taxes is deferred until the property is transferred or sold.
The annual cost of the proposed homestead exemptions is estimated to be approximately $1.05 million, excluding the tax deferral program. If the city commission approves the resolution amending the homestead exemptions and an updated tax deferral program, it will also have to be approved by the state legislature and will be on the ballot in November 2023 as a referendum.