NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the full scope of exemptions that eligible seniors can apply for in Dawson County.
Since estimated property tax assessments were mailed to Dawson County landowners in May, relief for seniors has been top of mind for locals.
Concerns have centered around how an increase in taxes would hurt seniors, particularly those of them living on fixed incomes.
DCN previously published a guide on local property taxes, assessed property values and the tax appeals process.
This story continues below.
The window to apply for specialized exemptions, such as those for seniors, is January 1 through April 1 each year. Standard homestead exemption can be applied for throughout the year, according to a June 8 email from Chief Appraiser Elaine Garrett.
Exemption applications must be done in person, the county’s tax assessor’s webpage stated.
Forms for the current year must be submitted before April 1 of the year the application is being sought, the tax assessor’s web page added.
Information on exemptions for seniors beginning at age 62 is available on the county’s website, in the tax assessor’s and tax commissioner’s offices and on the back of the tax bills mailed out each year, Garrett previously said.
Seniors 62 or older can claim an exemption if their household income does not exceed $25,000 by Jan. 1. That amount is considered along with up to $87,000 for this tax year that seniors may receive through social security and some retirement funds, Dawson County Personal Property Appraiser Teresa Worley said on June 8.
Certain homeowners ages 62 and over by Jan. 1 can also claim a local school homestead exemption if their income doesn’t exceed $25,000 for the preceding year. Eligible seniors could
get up to $10,000 off of the assessed value of their property for county and school ad valorem taxes owed, Worley added.
Thos at least 65 years old can claim an exemption if their income doesn’t exceed $50,000 as of Jan. 1, in addition to that $87,000 limit.
“There are 3 different tiers for the 65 [year-old] exemption dependent on the household income,” Garrett said. “The school tax portion of those exemptions range from $67,000 to $85,000. The county tax portion for those exemptions range from $67,000 to $79,000.”
Seniors that are 70 or older could be eligible for a stand-alone school exemption, Garrett said.
That exemption offers $120,000 off of the school portion of the tax bill and is the only one that’s not income based, Garrett added.
For people at least 75 years old, they can claim an exemption if their household income also does not exceed $25,000 as of Jan. 1, and the additional funds limit of $87,000 for this tax year also applies.
The 75-year-plus exemption can get applicants off up to $65,000 off of the assessed value of the county portion of taxes and up to 100 percent off of the school portion, Worley added.
Other homestead exemptions also exist for disabled residents and veterans.
For more information, you can visit the tax assessor’s office in person to ask questions and pick up exemption details. You can also contact the assessor’s office at 706-344-3590.
“Come into our office in January. Start in January,” Worley added about applying for exemptions. “We’ll give you the paperwork and tell you what you have to bring back in by April 1…[and] then you have until April 1 to bring back that information.”
Eligible property owners will also be able to see some relief from taxes in the form of Georgia’s 2023 Homestead Tax Relief Grant, according to the state Department of Revenue’s (DOR) web page about the initiative.
This one-time credit was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp and the General Assembly in March. Eligible property owners include those who had or who have obtained a homestead exemption for this year, stated the DOR web page.
With the credit, eligible homeowners will be able to have the assessed values of their properties reduced by up to $18,000. The grant will be applied after state and local tax exemptions. Homeowners could see between a $400-500 credit applied to their tax bills.
The one-time credit is not considered an exemption, nor will it be issued as a refund or a check, the DOR web page stated.
“Folks with homestead exemption[s] on their property currently will see the credit listed on their tax bills later this year,” Garrett said in a June 9 follow-up email. “There is not a separate application required.”
Property tax bills
The recent tax assessment notices represent the expected property tax bill. Just over 60% of a landowner’s annual tax bill will consist of taxes due to the school system, with the remaining amount of annual taxes due to the county government.
As in previous years, an increase in assessed residential property values despite millage rate rollbacks would contribute to the expected increase in taxes.
The average increase in Dawson County residential property values was about 37%, while the standard increase for individual homes or residential improvement values was just shy of 42%, according to 2023 figures from the tax assessor’s office.
Multiple local residents have reached out to DCN about their assessed values going up by at least 50%, if not more.
Landowners will have a more exact idea of property taxes owed after Dawson County’s Board of Commissioners and Board of Education each set their millage rates for the year around the July-to-August timeframe.
DCN will continue to follow this topic.