Be Like the Elephant: Don’t Forget to File for the Homestead Exemption!

Written by Joel Gerber. Posted in Homestead Exemption

 

Everyone knows the old saying about an elephant’s memory: “An elephant never forgets.” This year, be like the elephant and don’t forget to file for the Homestead Exemption!

If you are a Georgia resident who purchased a primary residence in 2021 (or made a prior owned property your primary residence as of December 31, 2021) and that property is located in Bryan, Bulloch, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh or Tattnall Counties, you should file for the Homestead Exemption now. (Chatham County Information Below). By filing for the Homestead Exemption, you will receive a reduction in your home’s assessed value. You only file the Homestead Exemption one time. Please click your county’s link below for specific information on filing the Homestead Exemption.

If you are a Georgia resident who purchased a primary residence in 2021 (or made a prior owned property your primary residence as of December 31, 2021) and that property is located in Chatham County, please click the Chatham County link below to determine the correct time for you to file the Homestead Exemption. You only file the Homestead Exemption one time. Please understand that the following information is general in nature and may not apply to your specific situation.

Bryan County
Bulloch County
Chatham County

Effingham County
Glynn County
Liberty County

Long County
McIntosh County
Tattnall County

Bryan County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Bryan County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) to the Bryan County Tax Commissioner’s Office in either Richmond Hill or Pembroke. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Richmond Hill Office
66 Captain Matthew Freeman Drive
Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324
912-756-2434

Pembroke Office
11 North Courthouse Street
Pembroke, Georgia 31321
912-653-3880


Bulloch County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Bulloch County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) to the Bulloch County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Bulloch County Tax Assessor’s Office
113 North Main Street
Statesboro, Georgia 30458
912-764-2181


Chatham County

To determine the correct time for you to file the Homestead Exemption in Chatham County, please complete the following steps:

  • Go to the Chatham County Board of Assessor’s website at boa.chathamcountyga.gov.
  • Scroll about halfway down the page and click the Online Filings & Records Search tab. Read the disclaimer and select the Agree tab.
  • Type in your property address ONLY and click the Search button. If you live on a numbered street, search by the number only and do not include the direction (i.e., search 56th, not West 56th).
  • Once you locate your property, click on the address to open the link.
  • Locate and click on the Property Record Card (PRC) tab on the left side of the page.
  • Scroll down until you see Appraised Values. Locate the 2021 Tax Year and go to the Appraised Total in that same row (4th column). That amount is the 2021 fair market value. NOTE: Do not be alarmed if the PRC for your property is not in your name yet. The Tax Assessor will update its record to reflect the new owner during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Please click the link below that corresponds with your property’s Appraised Value and your purchase price:

My property’s 2021 Appraised Total is more than I paid.

For those of you who bought a primary residence located in Chatham County in 2021 and the 2021 Appraised Total is more than you paid, do not file the Homestead Exemption in 2022 (however, if the difference between the 2021 Appraised Total 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 stabilize your tax assessed value (also known as the Stephens-Day Exemption value) at an amount higher than what you paid for the property. So, what do I do?

Around mid-May 2022, you should receive a valuation notice (Annual Notice of Assessment) from the Chatham County Tax Assessor that shows the 2022 Current Fair Market Value as equal to the price you paid for the home. Assuming that is what the Notice of Assessment shows, you should file the Homestead Exemption between January 1, 2023 and April 1, 2023. Do NOT forget!

If for some reason the Notice of Assessment you receive does not reflect your purchase price (as there are a few exceptions), the Notice of Assessment will provide you instructions on how to appeal your home’s tax assessed value. You would want to file an appeal in an attempt to have the county reduce your home’s fair market value to your purchase price. Once the appeal process is complete and you are satisfied with the fair market value determined by the county then remember to file for the Homestead Exemption between January 1, 2023 and April 1, 2023.

If you have not received the Notice of Assessment by mid-May 2022, please contact the Tax Assessor’s office to ensure you know when those will be mailed (and confirm the mailing address that the county will mail it to).

IMPORTANT: Even if the 2021 Appraised Total is higher than what you paid for the property, there are certain circumstances in which you should still file. For example, if you qualify for a much larger exemption (i.e., disability exception), then that larger exemption may outweigh your decision not to file.


My property’s 2021 Appraised Total is the same or less than I paid.

If the 2021 Appraised Total is the same or less than what you paid for your home (assuming this is not new construction whose fair market value is still based on the lot value only – see below), you want to file for the Homestead Exemption on or before April 1, 2022. By filing for the Homestead Exemption, you will receive a reduction to your home’s assessed value each year going forward as long as you reside in the home as your primary residence. In addition, you will be able to stabilize your home’s assessed value (the exemption that stabilizes for home’s fair market value is known as the Stephens-Day Exemption). This is a good thing because this will prevent your home’s assessed value from significantly increasing over the years (as long as you do not apply for a building permit).

New Construction Homes in Chatham County

Often times when you purchase a new construction home, the county has not assessed the completed home, just the land value. Thus, when you look at the 2021 Appraised Total it may show a very low number (likely just the value for the lot). While you will not be able to take advantage of this super low value you still can and should file the Homestead Exemption. However, you MUST remember to obtain your Annual Notice of Assessment which the county will mail to you in mid-May 2022. The Notice of Assessment will have the Current Year Fair Market Value which will include both the land and building value. If that value is right around or less than what you paid for the home then there is nothing further to do (assuming you already filed for the Homestead Exemption). If that value is much more than what you paid for the home then you will need to file an appeal in an attempt to have the fair market value (for Stephens-Day purposes) reduced to your purchase price.
To file the Homestead and Stephens-Day Exemption in Chatham County, you will need your driver’s license and vehicle registration (both showing the new address). You will file online by following these steps:

  1. Go to the Chatham County Board of Assessor’s website at boa.chathamcountyga.gov.
  2. Scroll about halfway down the page and click the Online Filings & Records Search tab. Read the disclaimer and select the Agree tab.
  3. Locate and click on the E-File tab at the top of the screen.
  4. Click on the New User? Create an account tab to create an account.
  5. Once an account has been created, select Homestead Application (New) from the list of available filings. Click Begin Filing.
  6. Type in your property address ONLY and click the Search button. If you live on a numbered street, search by the number only and do not include the direction (i.e., search 56th, not West 56th).
  7. Once you locate the property, click Start Filing.
  8. Follow all prompts to complete the application, clicking Next when each page is complete.
  9. When prompted to attach your Georgia Driver License and Georgia Motor Vehicle Registration (both showing the new address), click Select files to upload the documents. NOTE: You will need to scan or upload the documents to your computer or device prior to completing this step.
  10. Submit the application when complete.

NOTE: If you are filing any additional exemptions (i.e., senior, disabled veterans, etc.) you MUST file in person at the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Chatham County Tax Assessor’s Office
222 West Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401
912-652-7100


Effingham County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Effingham County, you will need to bring your driver’s license and a utility bill (both showing the new address) to the Effingham County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Effingham County Tax Assessor’s Office
901 North Pine Street, Suite 106
Springfield, Georgia 31329
912-754-2125


Glynn County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Glynn County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) to the Glynn County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Glynn County Tax Assessor’s Office
1725 Reynolds Street
Brunswick, Georgia 31520
912-554-7000


Liberty County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Liberty County, you will need to bring your driver’s license, vehicle registration and a current utility bill (all showing the new address) to the Liberty County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Liberty County Tax Assessor’s Office
112 North Main Street
Hinesville, Georgia 31313
912-876-2823


Long County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Long County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) to the Long County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Long County Tax Assessors’ Office
285 South McDonald Street
Ludowici, Georgia 31316
912-545-9111


McIntosh County

To file the Homestead Exemption in McIntosh County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) and vehicle registration to the McIntosh County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

McIntosh County Tax Assessor’s Office
601 North Way
Darien, Georgia 31305
912-437-6663


Tattnall County

To file the Homestead Exemption in Tattnall County, you will need to bring your driver’s license (showing the new address) to the Tattnall County Tax Assessor’s Office. The Homestead Exemption must be filed by April 1, 2022.

Tattnall County Tax Assessor’s Office
108 West Brazell Street
Reidsville, Georgia 30453
912-557-4010


As always, if you need help with anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at 912-484-1996 (even nights and weekends) or email me at jgerber@brannenlaw.com.

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