Here are the Decatur homestead tax exemptions that are on the ballot this yearFile photo.
Decatur, GA — Decatur voters will see five ballot questions related to homestead tax exemptions on the ballot this fall, in addition to city commission and school board candidates.
The Georgia Legislature passed legislation updating the exemptions for city and school taxes earlier this year, and now it’s up to voters to approve or reject the measures.
To see the sample ballot including the municipal elections, click here. Early voting ends on Nov. 3, and Election Day is Nov. 7. Decatur’s voters will also see referendum questions related to DeKalb County’s equalized homestead option sales tax, special purpose local option sales tax, and homestead exemptions as well.
For more information about the city of Decatur’s referendums, click here.
Here is the ballot question for City Schools of Decatur’s senior homestead tax exemptions:
Senate Bill 288, Act No. 128
“Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from City of Decatur independent school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes for a period of five years in the amount of $200,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that school district who are between 65 and 69 years of age and whose federal adjusted gross income, as well as the federal adjusted gross income of the spouse of such resident and all other members of the family who also reside at such homestead, does not exceed $62,000.00 and which provides a homestead exemption from City of Decatur independent school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes for a period of five years in the amount of $200,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that school district who are 70 years of age or older regardless of income?”
For school taxes, Senate Bill 288 updated the senior homestead tax exemption for City Schools of Decatur for an additional five-year period. No changes were made to the S-6 exemption, which provides a reduction of $200,000 of assessed home value, or $400,000 appraised value, for homeowners age 70 and older without an income cap.
Under the proposed homestead tax being considered by voters, seniors 70 and older would be eligible for a reduction of $200,000 of assessed home value, or $400,000 of appraised value. So $400,000 of their home value would not be taxed for the school system.
“[Under] that exemption, the first $400,000 of value on your home is exempt from tax so theoretically if you have a home that $398,000 of worth, and you’re over 70, you’re not going to be paying taxes for the schools either,” school board member Hans Utz previously said.
For example, if the home value is $500,000, only $100,000 would be subject to school taxes, assuming homeowners take the other exemptions.
For the average senior over 70, $400,000 would represent a significant portion of their home value that is exempt, so it would be a much smaller tax bill than most other Decatur residents who don’t have access to the exemption, Utz said.
For the S-5 exemption, the dollar amount of the household adjusted income for seniors ages 65-69 will increase from $53,000 to $62,000 if approved by voters. The legislation maintained the exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value, $400,000 appraised value. Generally, homeowners 65 and older with an income of $62,000 or less and a home value under $400,000 would not pay school taxes.
“To be clear, everyone that currently qualifies will qualify under the new exemption. Additional seniors will qualify under this exemption because we are increasing the amount that we allow for income,” Utz previously said. “Nobody that currently qualifies will be taken off. There will be some people that get added because we are accepting a higher income level.”
Here are the ballot questions related to city taxes:
House Bill 632, Act No. 163
“Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from City of Decatur ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of $40,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of the City of Decatur?”
House Bill 633, Act No. 164
“Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from City of Decatur ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of $15,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that city who are 65 years of age or older?”
House Bill 634, Act No. 165
“Shall the Act be approved which provides a new homestead exemption from City of Decatur ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of $40,000.00 for each resident of the City of Decatur who holds real property subject to a written 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 owns all improvements located on the real property, subject to sale restrictions intended to preserve the affordability of the residence?”
House Bill 635, Act No. 166
“Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from City of Decatur ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of $25,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that city who are 62 years of age or older and whose income does not exceed $60,000.00?”
The city of Decatur also increased parts of the general homestead exemptions for city taxes and created an exemption for owner-occupied homes on land managed through the Decatur Land Trust. The annual cost of the proposed homestead exemptions is estimated to be approximately $1.05 million.
“A homestead exemption essentially is a reduction in the taxable value of your home for the purpose of reducing the homeowner’s taxes,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said.
The city’s homestead exemptions apply to homeowners who own and live in their homes in the city. The exemptions are from ad valorem taxes for the city’s general fund, capital fund and the Downtown Development Authority.
Here’s what the city’s referendums are aiming to do:
– Increase the General Homestead Exemption (GH-1) for all residential owner-occupied properties from $25,000 to $40,000.
This exemption applies to all general homestead properties where the homeowner owns and lives in the home. There is no age requirement.
“It would be increasing the amount of the exemption from the current $25,000 to $40,000,” Arnold said. “For example, if your fair market value is $500,000, for the city your assessed value is $250,000. We would reduce your assessed value from $250,000 to $210,000.”
– 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.
This exemption is age-based and cumulative. It is applied on top of the general homestead exemption, and in some cases, also on top of the GH-3 exemption.
“It would increase from $10,000 to $15,000,” Arnold said. “That would reduce the taxable assessed value an additional $15,000.”
For a home with a fair market of $500,000, the assessed value would be $250,000 and with the GH-2 exemption, the assessed value would be $195,000.
– Create a Community Land Trust Homestead Exemption (LT-1) in the amount of $40,000 for owner-occupied properties on land managed by a nonprofit whose primary mission is affordable housing, such as the Decatur Land Trust.
“It could be any number of 501c3s who are in the business or have a mission of affordable housing. Then they build houses on that land, they own the land, they sell the houses to people, and as it stands today, those people would not be eligible for homestead exemptions,” Arnold said.
This would allow those property owners to take a similar general homestead exemption of $40,000 off the assessed value of the property.
– 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.
“It pushes up your income. Your income has to be below $60,000 and the amount of the exemption is $25,000. That’s an increase from $15,000 today,” Arnold said.
Homeowners who qualify for this exemption would see their assessed value reduced by an additional $25,000 on top of the GH-1 exemption. For a home with a fair market value of $500,000 and an assessed value of $250,000, their assessed value would be reduced to $185,000.
For homeowners who meet the income requirements and are 65 and older, this exemption would also be applied on top of the GH-1 and GH-2 exemptions. In this example, a homeowner’s assessed value would be reduced to $170,000 for a home with a fair market value of $500,000.
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