As 2015 begins, so do questions regarding the Homestead Exemption. If you purchased a primary residence in 2014 located in Chatham County, the following is a guide to help you determine whether you should file for the exemption this year. For those of you who purchased a primary residence in 2014 located in Bryan, Effingham or Liberty County, no guidance is needed – you should file away!
What if I bought my home in 2014 and the 2014 tax assessed value is less than what I paid?
For those of you who bought a primary residence located in Chatham County in 2014 and paid more than the 2014 tax assessed value (assuming the building and the land have been given values) you want to file for the Homestead Exemption on or before April 1, 2015. By filing for Homestead, you (1) will receive a reduction of your home’s assessed value each year going forward and (2) you are locking in your home’s assessed value. This is a good thing because this “lock” will prevent your home’s assessed value from significantly increasing over the years (as long as you do not apply for a building permit). Please note that the locked value (commonly known as your Stephens-Day Exemption) does not apply to the school tax portion of your tax bill).
You can file the Homestead Exemption by going to the Chatham County Tax Assessor’s office located at 222 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Suite 113, Savannah, Georgia (1st floor of the Pete Liakakis Government Building).
You will need to bring the following items with you when you file: (1) a 2014 utility bill with your name on it, (2) your Georgia driver’s license and (3) your Georgia car registration which shows the address of your new Chatham County property. The requirement for presenting your car registration is new this year.
NOTE: If you purchased a primary residence in 2014 located in Bryan, Effingham or Liberty County you will want to file for the Homestead Exemption in your respective tax assessor’s office before April 1, 2015. Unfortunately, the Stephens-Day Exemption does not apply in these counties.
What if I bought my home in 2014 and the 2014 tax assessed value is more than what I paid?
For those of you who bought a primary residence located in Chatham County in 2014 at a price lower than the 2014 tax assessed value, generally you should not file for the Homestead Exemption in 2015 (note, however, if the difference in the 2014 tax assessed value and what you paid for the home is small, you likely should go ahead and file). So why don’t I file yet? If you file the Homestead Exemption under these circumstances, you will lock in your tax assessed value at an amount that is higher than what you paid for the property (not so good). So what do I do?
This year (around the beginning of June), you should receive a valuation notice from the Chatham County Tax Assessor showing that the 2015 tax assessed value of your home is equal to the price you paid for the house. Assuming that is what the valuation notice shows, you should go ahead and file the Homestead Exemption before April 1, 2016. If for some reason the valuation notice you receive this year does not reflect the purchase price (as there are a few exceptions), the valuation notice will provide you instruction on how to appeal your home’s tax assessed value.
Please understand that the information provided above is general information and may not apply to your specific situation. If you have any questions regarding this post or would like to discuss this process in more detail, feel free to contact me anytime at (912) 484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.