Sane urges homeowners to make sure they sign up for tax exemptions

·3 min read

Aug. 29—Whitfield County homeowners qualify for "some pretty sizable" homestead exemptions for local property taxes, especially if they are elderly, according to Tax Commissioner Danny Sane.

Sane said he wants to get the word out to make sure that those who are eligible for those exemptions sign up for them. A homestead exemption exempts a portion of a person's legal primary residence from property taxes.

"Anyone who owns a home in this county, if it's your primary residence, the county knocks off $20,000 of the value of the property (for county maintenance and operations and special tax district taxes)," Sane said. "Some places in the state, the county knocks off $2,000. Some places $10,000. I don't think there are a whole lot of counties that knock off $20,000 or more."

The county taxes at 40% of assessed value.

In addition, homeowners outside the city of Dalton who are 65 and older and earn less than $35,000 a year can receive an exemption of $87,500 for school taxes only.

"Now, at age 70 and older, it doesn't matter how much money you make," Sane said. "We deduct $150,000 for school purposes."

City of Dalton residents qualify for homestead exemptions.

"Both the city government and the city school system have an exemption of $75,000 at 65 and older if your income is $35,000 or less and $150,000 at 70 and older," Sane said. "That may not sound like a lot, but it was a pretty big sacrifice for all entities. It costs them millions of dollars, and I really appreciate the school boards taking part."

The city of Dalton taxes at 100% of assessed value.

The first senior exemptions, for those 65 and older, were enacted by local legislation passed by the state legislature in 1996.

"I was trying to exempt those with below the median home value at the time and the median Social Security at the time," Sane said. "A man and his wife were probably drawing $1,000 apiece at the time, and even with a part-time job, he probably wasn't going to hit $35,000 in income."

The second senior exemption, for those 70 and older, was passed in 2003.

Sane said he isn't sure how many people in the county qualify for those exemptions. He said he puts a note on every tax bill that certain elderly persons may be entitled to these exemptions and should contact his office for more information. But he said the type on that notice is small ("The state doesn't let me make it any bigger than that"), and people may not notice.

Sane said if people qualify for one of those exemptions and haven't signed up they can come by his office at 1013 Riverburch Parkway, just off the north bypass, and the staff can get them signed up.

The deadline for signing up is April 1, so the deadline has passed to get an exemption for this year's taxes. But Sane said the staff can get people signed up and have the exemption in place for 2023 property taxes.