The Tax Commissioner is responsible for the billing and collection of ad valorem taxes. These taxes include real property, personal property, motor vehicle tax, mobile home tax and timber tax. The information found on this web site is intended to aid you in understanding your rights and responsibilities relating to property tax in Stephens County. This web site does not cover the many complex laws governing taxation in the state of Georgia and should not be relied on as a legal source of information. If you don’t find the answers to your questions below, or, if you need clarification on information you find here, please contact us.
For more detailed information about revenue and taxation, the Georgia Department of Revenue sponsors a web site where the annotated version of the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) can be viewed. Click HERE to visit this web site.
The Stephens County Board of Tax Assessor's Office should be contacted for more information on property values. The phone number for the Tax Assessor is (706) 896-2267.
Property tax is an ad valorem tax, which means according to value. Ad valorem tax, the tax collected by the tax commissioner, is based on the value of the taxable property in the county.
All real estate and personal property are taxable unless law has exempted the property. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-3) Real property is land and generally anything that is erected, growing or affixed to the land; personal property is everything that can be owned that is not real estate. Personal property typically consists of inventory and fixtures used in conducting business, boats, aircraft, farm machinery, motor vehicles and mobile homes. Your household property is not normally taxable.
The Board of Assessors has the responsibility of determining the value of property in Stephens County. Each year between January 1 and April 1 every property owner has the ability to declare a proposed value for their property. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-9) These values are declared in the manner of 'filing a return'. Returns for real estate are filed in the Tax Assessor's office and returns for personal property are filed with the Board of Assessors. The Board of Assessors will review your proposed value and if they disagree, an assessment notice with the Boards' value will be mailed to you.
Taxpayers may challenge an assessment by Stephens County Board of Tax Assessors by appealing to Stephens County Board of Equalization or to an arbitrator(s) within 45 days from the date of the assessment notice. Once the county board of equalization or the arbitrator(s) has rendered a decision, the taxpayer may continue their appeal to the superior court by mailing or filing with Stephens County Board of Tax Assessors a written notice wishing to continue the appeal.
Assessed value is defined as being 40% of the fair market value. Property in Georgia is taxed on the assessed value.
The tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually by the Stephens County Board of Commissioners and the Stephens County Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. Each governing authority estimates their total revenue from other sources. This figure is subtracted from their overall budgetary needs, and then a millage rate is set that will generate the necessary revenues to fulfill budgetary requirements.
Once the property owner and the Board of Assessors have come to terms with an appropriate value, this value is provided to the Tax Commissioner for tax bill calculation. To calculate a tax bill, you must first deduct any exemptions that may apply from the assessed value; thus generating a net assessed (taxable) value. Next you multiply the net assessed value by the millage rate.
Taxes for real estate and business personal property are normally due in Stephens County by November 15 of each year. Mobile/modular homes are due April 1 of each year and motor vehicles are due based on the owners' birthday.
After the due date, for real estate and business personal property, interest at the rate of .65% per month is charged. Additionally, a penalty of 5% will apply to all taxes that are not paid every 120 days of the deadline, however, homesteaded property with a tax liability of less than $500 does not receive the 120-day penalty.
If the property taxes remain unpaid, the tax commissioner has the right and responsibility to levy on the property for non-payment. Of course we consider this a last resort for tax collection and prefer to use other collection methods.
Yes. There are several exemptions and special assessment programs available that may apply to your property. The most common are the homestead exemption for real estate and for business personal property there is the freeport exemption. Contact the Stephens County Tax Assessor’s Office for details of the available exemptions.
Homestead exemption is the system developed by the State of Georgia that exempts from taxation a specified amount of assessed value of your home. To apply for homestead exemption bring a copy of your warranty deed to the Tax Assessor’s office between January 2 and April 1. To qualify you must both own and occupy your home as of January 1. Once you have qualified for homestead exemption and remain in the same house you do not need to reapply. However, if you move, you are required to reapply for the exemption for the new location. Beginning June 1, 2005 application for homestead exemption may be submitted any time during the year but must be received before April 1 of the taxable year to qualify for the exemption that year. If received after April 1, the Tax Assessor will activate the exemption the following year.
You can obtain a copy of your warranty deed from the Clerk of Superior Court record center. This office is located at the Stephens County Government Building, 70 N. Alexander Street, Room 202 on the second level.
This is an abbreviated list. Please see the Official Georgia Code for a complete list. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-220)
Yes. Mobile/modular homes are considered personal property and are taxable in the State of Georgia. Tax must be paid annually with a due date of April 1. The owner of any mobile/modular home located in Stephens County must file a return and obtain a location permit. In order to obtain this permit the mobile home tax for the current year must be paid in full.
The HTRC (Homeowner's Tax Relief Credit) shown on your tax bill is the result of the homeowner's tax relief enacted by the Governor and the General Assembly of the State of Georgia in 1999. This credit only applies to homesteaded property. This act became more commonly know as the Homeowner's Tax Relief Credit (HTRC) act. In 2005 the HTRC saved homeowners in Stephens County over $4 million dollars in State, County, and School Tax.
The state homestead tax relief grant that funded an increased homestead exemption for homeowners for the last several years will not be available. Declining state revenues during the current recession means there is no money for the State to give the tax relief to homeowners. The grant appropriated by the General Assembly and the Governor for the last several years to counties, cities and schools had given tax relief to homeowners in the form of a credit on their tax bills. According to legislation passed in 2009 (House Bill 143), the grant will only be made available in the future if state revenues grow at least 3% plus the rate of inflation.
Dene M. Hicks
Stephens County, GA
70 North Alexander Street,
Toccoa, Georgia 30577
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PO Box 187
Toccoa, Georgia 30577
Fax: (706) 886-0643
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.