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ASK THE EXPERTS

November ballot to provide tax relief for seniors, disabled

POSTED: August 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

During my recent campaign for re-election, my focus was on the need for ad valorem tax relief.  Your overwhelming vote of confidence leads me to believe that you are in favor of tax reform and want me to go about the business of instituting change in our current system.

 

Some statewide tax cutting initiatives already being discussed for the next Legislative Session include 1) freezing of ad valorem property tax rates until the property sells, and 2) removal of the ad valorem property taxes on personal vehicles. 

 

These statewide issues should be easily resolved providing the House and Senate work together.  Many of the Senators are in favor of these changes, as well as desiring to modify and lower our state income tax rates.

 

We are currently in hard economic times.  Some of the information we see indicates that revenues for June were down and that the Governor may have to use some of the reserves to balance the FY 2008 Budget. 

 

We see some of the real estate and banking problems starting to affect us at the local level.  Additionally, our Mohawk Plant closed putting more than 360 people out of work.  When citizens are out of work, how can we expect them to continue paying high property taxes?  If the taxes are not paid, the property will be sold on the local courthouse steps.

 

I also choose to believe that your support of me as your State Representative is a precursor to the vote in November.  Dawson and Lumpkin County voters will have an opportunity to vote to pass referendums providing tax relief for senior citizens and the permanently disabled that will be effective starting in 2009. 

 

In Dawson County, local legislation that I passed will provide a Homestead Exemption from Dawson County school and county ad valorem property taxes in the amount of $150,000 of the appraised value (fair market value) for property owners who are permanently disabled or who are 65 years of age or older and whose income does not exceed $50,000, not including Social Security. 

 

In Lumpkin County, local legislation that I passed will provide a Homestead Exemption from Lumpkin County school ad valorem property taxes in the amount of $300,000 of the appraised value (fair market value) for property owners who are permanently disabled or who are 65 years of age or older. 

 

It will also provide an exemption from city and county ad valorem property taxes up to $150,000 of appraised value (fair market value).  The lower threshold for city and county taxes recognizes the fact that older taxpayers continue to benefit from city and county services.

 

These are just the start.  In two years when you return to the polls, I hope to have ad valorem tax reform legislation that will give every homeowner relief.  In the mean time, we will gather data on how well the senior relief package is working. 

 

Questions raised during recent political forums have revealed that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about tax reform legislation that was passed during the 2008 Session.  As we get closer to the November election, I will explain the legislation, the costs, and the benefits in much more detail.     

 

Remember that a homestead is defined as a house and up to five contiguous acres of land.  The value of property in excess of the exempted amounts, and land in excess of five acres, will remain subject to normal taxation. 

 

As with other homestead exemptions, you must fill out an application at the office of your County Tax Commissioner in order to get them. 

 

It’s not automatic. 

 

I encourage all voters to pass these important tax relief referendums in November; and then remind seniors and the permanently disabled to file for their homestead exemptions.

 

As Chairman of the House Science & Technology Committee, I will continue to work with NGCSU President David Potter and the Development Authorities of Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties to get state assistance in running fiber optic cable technology from South Forsyth County, up SR 400 through Dawson and into Lumpkin County and beyond.  This will open up north Georgia to high-tech companies and their high-paying jobs so our folks won’t have to leave home on long and costly commutes to find work. 

 

Thank you for re-electing me to a fifth consecutive term as your State Representative. 

 

It is my honor and privilege to serve you. 

 

Keep in touch. 

 

Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533, (706) 864-6589, e-mail hamerson@alltel.net.  Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

 

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