Property Tax Information
Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax. It is the largest 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 state law, is established at 40% of fair market value less any exemptions. 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 $1000 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 to all counties except two, is the official responsible for receiving tax returns filed by taxpayers or designating the board of tax assessors to receive them; receiving and processing applications for homestead exemption; serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles; and performing all functions relating to billing, collecting, disbursing and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county.
The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioner(s) in all counties except one, is responsible for determining taxability; the appraisal assessment, and the equalization of all assessments within the county. It is the responsibility of the Assessor's office to ensure that all properties are assessed fairly and equitably. They notify taxpayers when changes are made to the value of the property; they receive an review all appeals files. And they insure that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer. Wayne County has five members on it's Board of Assessors.
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 (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the board of equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed).
The Board of County Commissioners (or the sole Commissioner in some counties) an elected body, establishes the budget for county government operations each year. They then levy the mill rate necessary to fund the portion of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem taxes.
The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for school purposes and they then recommend their mill rate, which with very few exceptions, must be levied for the School Board by the county commissioners(s).
The State Revenue Commissioner exercises general oversight of the entire ad valorem tax process. In addition, the State levies ad valorem taxes each year in an amount which cannot exceed one fourth of one mill (.00025). This money is retained by the State of Georgia.