The Georgia Department of Revenue sponsors a web site with the non-annotated version of the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.). This site can be viewed HERE.
Property is taxable in the county where it is located unless otherwise provided by law. (O.C.G.A. & sect; 48-5-11)
Generally, Stephens County real estate and business personal property taxes are due by November 15. If taxes are not collected on the property, it may be levied upon and ultimately sold. Property tax collected by the local government is used to pay for the support of services provided by the Stephens County Board of Education, Stephens County and the State of Georgia.
In Georgia property is assessed at 40% of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-7) Property is assessed at the county level. The State Revenue Commissioner is responsible for examining the tax digests of counties in Georgia in order to determine that property is assessed uniformly and equally between and within the counties. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-340)
The tax bills received by property owners will include both the fair market value and the assessed value of the property. Fair market value means "the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept for the property at an arm's length, bona fide sale." (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-2)
Property owners that do not agree with the appraised value on their tax bill can file an appeal with the Board of Assessors. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-311) If no agreement is reached, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the Board of Equalization.
Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. This value is then multiplied by the appropriate mill rate to determine the tax amount due.
Equipment, machinery, and fixtures are assessed at 40 percent of fair market value. The tax assessor may value the equipment, machinery, and fixtures of a going business to reflect the fair market value of the business as a whole. When no ready market exists for the sale of equipment, machinery, and fixtures, a fair market value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant, and useful information available. This information may include, but is not limited to, the original cost of the property, depreciation or obsolescence, and any increase in value by reason of inflation.
Property tax returns for real estate must be filed with the Stephens County Tax Assessor at the Courthouse between January 1 and April 1 of each year where property has changed or been acquired. The taxpayer may elect not to file a property tax return if they have no changes that would affect the value of their property from the previous year. Failure to file a required return will subject the taxpayer to a 10% penalty on the value of the property not returned plus interest and possibly penalties from the date the tax would have been due.
Personal property tax returns (PT-50p) are to be filled annually with the Board of Assessors without regard to change in value or use. This deadline is April 1.
Vehicle owners must renew their registration and pay the ad valorem tax every year during the 30-day period, which ends on their birthday. If the vehicle is owned by more than one person, then the birthday of the person's name that appears first on the title is used to determine the registration period. Newly acquired vehicles must be registered within 30 days from the date of purchase. The Stephens County tag office is located in the Stephens County Government Building, 70 N. Alexander St., Room 103. Hours are from 8:00 – 5:00, Monday - Friday. For more detailed information regarding motor vehicle registration, please visit our DMV web page.
If a taxpayer discovers they have paid taxes that they believe were illegal or erroneous, they may request a refund within 3 years of the date of payment. The claim for refund should be filed in writing with the board of commissioners within three years after the date of payment. Applications for refunds are available from the Board of Assessors or the Tax Commissioner. Refunds for erroneous paid taxes must be based on "errors of fault" and not on disagreements of value.
Exemptions can typically be defined as a portion of the assessed value that will be free of taxation.
The deadline for filing an application for a homestead exemption in Stephens County is April 1. Application for homestead exemption is made with the Tax Assessor’s office. Failure to apply by the deadline will result in loss of the exemption for that year. 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.
The State of Georgia offers homestead exemptions to persons that own and occupy their home as a primary residence. Stephens County offers homestead exemptions that are more beneficial to the taxpayer than the exemptions offered by the State. For information concerning local homestead exemptions contact the Tax Assessor’s Office. The homestead exemption is deducted from the assessed value (40% of the fair market value) of the home. Then the mill rate is applied to arrive at the amount of ad valorem tax due.
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.