AD VALOREM TAX, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source of revenue for local governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property, which is established as of January 1 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of the fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by various entities (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value, or .001).
Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:
The State Revenue Commissioner is responsible for examining the tax digests of counties in Georgia in order to determine that property is assessed uniformly and equally between and within the counties (O.C.G.A. 48-5-340).
The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county governing authority, is responsible for the appraisal, assessment, and the equalization of all assessments within the county. The Board of Tax Assessors receives tax returns filed by taxpayers and processes applications for homestead exemption. They notify taxpayers when changes are made to the value of property, receive and review all appeals filed, and insure that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.
The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the Board of Tax Assessors
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for county government operations and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portion of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.
The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for school purposes and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portion of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.
The County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the Constitution, is the official responsible for performing all functions related to billing, collecting, accounting for and disbursing ad valorem taxes collected in this county. The Tax Commissioner also serves as an agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles.
TAX BILLS Generally, Wilkinson County property taxes are due by December 20. If taxes are not paid on the property, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold.
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1of the tax year. The tax return is a listing of the property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s declaration of the value of their property.
Property tax returns must be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors (Tax Assessor’s Office)
between January 1 and April1 of each year. After the taxpayer has filed the initial tax return
for real property, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value determined for the preceding year. The taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur. Personal property tax returns are required to be filed each year.
A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Tax Assessors. This initiates the taxpayer’s appeal process if the declared value is not accepted by the Board of Tax Assessors.