When you first bought your home, did you expect it to be so expensive? Plenty of homeowners don't! They go into homeownership comparing their mortgage payments to their rent payments and thinking they'll come out about even.
Then they get hit with expenses they didn't consider. There are repairs, utilities, insurance, yard maintenance ... and these little things called property taxes.
Why Do You Pay Property Tax?
Wherever you live, you receive certain services from your town or city. You can use the library and send your kids to public school. You can call the fire department or police department in an emergency.
These services need funding. That's where property taxes come in.
Everyone who owns a home pays property tax, but they don't all pay the same amount. Municipalities calculate property taxes “ad valorem,” a term that translates literally to “according to value.” Essentially, the more your home is worth, the more you'll pay.
If you live in Georgia, you're lucky. Your property taxes are below the national average – almost $800 lower than the average, actually.
Property Tax in Georgia - The Numbers
According to SmartAsset, the average homeowner in Georgia pays around 0.957 percent of his or her home value on property tax. That works out to about $2,393 per year, assuming an assessed property value of $250,000. The average homeowner nationwide, by comparison, pays 1.211 percent or $3,028.
Calculating Your Property Tax
If you know your home's assessed value and your municipality's property tax rate, you can calculate your own Georgia property tax.
According to the state Department of Revenue, you calculate your property tax first by subtracting the standard $2,000 homestead exemption from your home's assessed value. You then take the difference and multiply it by your local property tax rate, also known as your millage rate.
The Smith family lives in Chattahoochee County, where the average property tax rate is equal to the state average of 0.93 percent. The value of the Smith home is $65,000, which is around the median level for that county. Therefore, the amount that the Smiths can expect to pay in property taxes is:
($65,000-$2,000) * 0.0093 = $585.90
Remember, though, even the Smiths' next-door neighbors will pay a different amount (unless their home has the exact same value).
Georgia Property Tax Exemptions
Let's look at that $2,000 “homestead exemption.” What is it, and do you qualify?
The answer to the second question is yes, assuming the home is legally yours and was your primary residence as of January 1 of the tax year in question. To receive it, you just have to file an application with your tax commissioner's or tax assessor's office, depending on the law in your county.
Just make sure you file by April 1, when your property tax returns are due.
The State of Georgia also offers a number of other exemptions. Those who qualify include:
- Persons 65 years old or older with qualifying income
- Those aged 62 and above, again with qualifying income
- Those aged 62 and older if the value of the home in question has risen by more than $10,000. This exemption takes the place of other homestead exemptions.
- Qualified disabled veterans
- Un-remarried surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans or service members killed in the line of duty.
- Un-remarried surviving spouses of firefighters or peace officers.
Check the Department of Revenue website if you think you might qualify for one of these exemptions.
You subtract your exemptions from your assessed value. Then you need to know your property tax rate.
Property Taxes in Georgia By County
Property tax rates across the state vary significantly. The lowest rates are in:
- Towns County (0.45 percent)
- Fannin County (0.45 percent)
- Gilmer County (0.52 percent)
- Dade County (0.58 percent)
On the other end of the scale, you find the highest rates in:
- Taliaferro County (1.66 percent)
- Sumter County (1.56 percent)
- Mitchell County (1.42 percent)
- Miller County (1.38 percent)
And then there are the middle-of-the-road areas:
- Decatur County (0.92 percent)
- Chattahoochee County (0.93 percent)
- Elbert County (0.93 percent )
- Jeff Davis County (0.93 percent)
- Grady County (0.94 percent)
- Oglethorpe County (0.94 percent)
Remember, these numbers only give you averages. Within each of these counties, exact tax rates vary between municipalities.
Your Georgia Property Tax Rate
The Georgia Department of Revenue publishes millage rates for each jurisdiction. At the moment, rates are available from the 2018 tax year all the way back to 1999. The department does its best to publish accurate rates but suggests that residents double check with their own County Tax Commissioners.
Why Georgia Is Different
Georgia's state government offers plenty of resources to help you understand your property tax obligations. But did you know that they don't actually take a cut?
That's right – as a state, Georgia doesn't charge a property tax. What you pay goes directly to your county and local governments. That's part of why Georgia is second to last in taxation and per-person spending across the entire Southeast.
Can't Afford It?
In Georgia, you don’t have to pay as much as you might in another state or county. But if you can't afford what you do owe, this might feel like cold comfort. You're still faced with some tough decisions.
Do you take out a second mortgage? Get another job? Sell your house and move?
There is another option.
It's called Sell and Stay, and it's an innovative new solution from EasyKnock. It allows you to sell your home without moving out.
Here's how it works. EasyKnock buys your property and you sign a leaseback agreement that allows you to live in your home as a tenant. You keep paying rent to EasyKnock until you're ready to move out or re-purchase the home.
No more property tax; no moving. It's a win-win situation.
Escape Property Tax Now
Not being able to pay your property tax is stressful. You love your home, but you don't know if you'll be able to stay.
Stop worrying! Contact EasyKnock and find out how you could qualify for Sell and Stay. Let EasyKnock pay your property tax; you focus on relaxing and enjoying your home. Get the process started today.