Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source of revenue for governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property, which is established January 1st 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 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed value or .001).
Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:
The County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the Constitution and elected in all counties except two, is the official responsible for receiving tax returns filed by taxpayers; receiving and processing applications for homestead exemptions; serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles; and performing all functions related to billing, collecting, disbursing, and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county.
NOTE: As of January 1, 2018, the Tax Commissioner delegated the responsibility of accepting tax returns and homestead exemption applications to the Tax Assessors office.
The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioners, is responsible for determining taxability, value and equalization of all assessments within the county. The County Board of Tax Assessors provides an annual Notice of Assessment to taxpayers; receives and reviews all appeals filed; and insures that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, the Board approves all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.
NOTE: As of January 1, 2018, the Tax Assessors office became responsible for accepting tax returns and homestead exemption applications rather than the Tax Commissioner.
The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is an entity charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the board of tax assessors (Note: Other avenues of appeal are also available including Arbitration, Certified Hearing Officer and Superior Court. Each has its own requirements and parameters. For more information on the various avenues of appeal, please contact the Tax Assessors office directly.
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected governing body, establishes the budget for the county government operations each year, and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portions 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 then recommends the School System mill rate, which, with very few exceptions, must be levied for the school board by the county commission. The City/Town Council, an elected governing body for municipalities located within the county, establishes the budget for the city/town government operations each year, and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portions of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.
The State Revenue Commissioner exercises general oversight of the entire ad valorem tax process. Prior to 2016, the state levied its own ¼ mill tax via the county tax bill.
Taxpayers are required by state law to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1 of the tax year. In Coweta County, the time for filing returns is January 1 through April 1.
As of January 1, 2018, these returns are filed with the Tax Assessors office and forms are available in that office.
The initial tax return is a listing of property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer's declaration of the value of the property.
Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally 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. 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.