State legislature passes Decatur homestead exemptions legislationGeorgia State Capitol. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — The Georgia General Assembly has passed the city of Decatur’s homestead tax exemption legislation for city taxes.
The bills now head to the governor. Once he signs the legislation, the homestead exemptions will be on the ballot as a referendum in November.
The city increased parts of the general homestead exemptions, and created an exemption for owner-occupied homes on land managed through the Decatur Land Trust.
“The City Commission has expressed interest in property tax relief for persons who own their homes and are impacted by increasing property values,” City Manager Andrea Arnold previously wrote in a memo. “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’s what’s slated to change:
– Increase the General Homestead Exemption (GH-1) for all residential owner-occupied properties from $25,000 to $40,000.
– 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.
– 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.
The annual cost of the proposed homestead exemptions is estimated to be approximately $1.05 million.
Also happening under the Gold Dome:
– City Schools of Decatur has two bills making their way through the state House. The school district is working to updated its senior homestead tax exemption and also redistrict the school board’s election districts.
The legislation passed the state Senate on March 9.
The current exemption expires in December. If the state legislature passes the exemption, and it’s signed by the governor, the tax exemption will be on the ballot in November as a referendum.
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 did not make any changes to the S-6 exemption. The board increased 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 board maintained the exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value).
The school board is aiming to extend the senior homestead tax exemption for an additional five-year period.
The school board also approved a resolution in November 2022 requesting the General Assembly reapportion the board’s election districts. Decatur has two election districts that are the same for the school board and the city commission.
For the city commission, redistricting is done through amending the city’s charter. The commission approved the new election districts at its Nov. 21, 2022, meeting and the change went into effect on Jan. 1. District 2 now extends to cover more of downtown Decatur.
In other legislative news:
– Rep. Billy Mitchell has sponsored a bill that aims to revise the pay for certain DeKalb judges, judicial officers and county officers. The bill passed the state House on Wednesday, March 15. It now heads to the Senate.
If the bill passes the legislature, the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit superior court judges’ salary would be increased to $21,489 beginning on July 1.
The bill also adjusts the salaries for the probate court judge, superior court clerk, tax commissioner, juvenile court judge, the county chief executive officer, the board of commissioners and the DeKalb County sheriff.
Salaries for the state court solicitor, chief magistrate, associate magistrate, district attorney and state court judge, jury and traffic division would also be adjusted.
– Rep. Karen Lupton introduced a bill to extend Brookhaven’s homestead tax exemption. In a Facebook post, Lupton said this is her first and only bill she is sponsoring this session as a new legislator.
The bill does not change the homestead exemption, but would allow it to be on the ballot as a referendum this fall.
According to the DeKalb tax commissioner’s website, Brookhaven’s basic homestead exemption is $32,000 plus city assessment freeze. For the senior homestead exemption, individuals age 65 and older can receive $101,600 plus city assessment freeze.
– Rep. Becky Evans has introduced bills on DeKalb’s homestead tax exemptions. The bills have not been voted one in the state House yet.
Currently, homeowners who are 65 years or older or 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a $16,500 exemption from school taxes and $14,000 exemption from county taxes and the household income limit is $15,000 Georgia Net Income.
House Bills 591 and 594 would increase the income cap to $37,500 for these exemptions.
The Georgia Net Income requirement is a formula provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. For this year, up to $43,524 for an individual or $87,048 for joint applicants in Social Security and retirement benefits may be excluded when calculating Georgia Net Income, according to the tax commissioner’s website.
Homeowners who are age 62 or older or are 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a homestead exemption of about $20,000 for school taxes and the income limit is $16,000 gross income.
Homeowners who are 65 years or older or 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a $22,500 exemption from school taxes and $14,000 exemption from county taxes. The household income limit is $16,000 gross income.
HB 593 would raise the income cap to $40,000 for both of these exemptions. It also leaves in place the full exemption from school taxes for disabled individuals and seniors age 62 or older with a household income of about $10,000.
The bills will be on the ballot in November as a referendum if they are passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.
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