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Your Guide To Homestead Exemption In Chatham County
Dated: November 29 2023
Unlocking Savings: Your Guide to Homestead Exemption in Chatham County
Not only do you get to swell with pride every time you pull into the driveway, but being a homeowner also allows you to realize some serious tax savings via homestead exemption
Here’s what this means for you. If you purchased a home, more specifically, your primary residence in 2023, you’re now eligible to apply for / qualify for homestead exemption. Georgia law provides that a homeowner is entitled to a homestead exemption on their home and land underneath provided the home was owned by the homeowner and was their legal residence as of January 1 of the taxable year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40). This property tax benefit can amount to considerable annual savings for you.
While some states provide this exemption automatically, in Georgia a homestead exemption must be applied for. Depending on the county, this can be done online, by fax, by mail, or in person. You only have to apply for the exemption once. The exemption remains as long as you reside in the home as your primary residence.
A Homestead Exemption provides more than just a tax break. It also provides two important protections. It prevents the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors and provides the surviving spouse with shelter.
CHATHAM COUNTY Homestead Exemptions (912-652-7271) – Deadline to file is April 1st - Homestead applications that are filed after April 1 will not be granted until the next calendar year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45) Failure to apply by the deadline will result in the loss of the exemption for that year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45). Taxpayers who file for homestead outside of the designated times will waive their exemption(s) for that tax year. The time for filing an application for homestead exemption may not be extended. Automatic renewal of homestead exemptions applies only to the home originally exempted. For further inquiries, please contact the office at 912-652-7271.
Residents of Chatham County who own and actually occupy a home and the land it rests on are eligible for an exemption. Property owners are allowed to claim only one homestead exemption, in which case must be on their primary residence. Rental property does not qualify. Only persons who reside on the property and whose name appears on the title can file for exemptions. Applications must be completed in person by the property owner unless they have given another party their power of attorney.
All exemptions must be filed with the Assessors Office, 222 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Suite 113., 1st Floor of the Pete Liakakis Government Building between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
To file for the homestead exemption, the property owner shall provide the Chatham County Board of Assessors staff with the following:
A valid Georgia Driver’s License or Georgia Identification Card
Registration for vehicles owned by and registered in the name of the applicant.
As a supplement to the Georgia Driver’s License or Georgia Identification Card, staff may also request the following:
A prior year utility bill or Chatham County Voter’s Registration Card.
Failure to file within the allocated time for the homestead exemption constitutes a waiver of exemption for that tax year. Georgia law does not provide for the extension of time for filing for whatever reason. All exemptions, once approved, are automatically renewed each year until eligibility changes.
STEPHENS-DAY EXEMPTION: CHATHAM COUNTY
A homestead exemption that is equal to the difference between the current year's fair market value and the adjusted base year value (property’s value in the year prior to the homestead application plus any improvements since the year of the application). This exemption does not apply to improvements added to the property after January 1 of the base year.
The Savannah Chatham County Public School System bills have a Consumer Price Index percentage that will be added to the base year value, whenever there is an annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. There have been annual Consumer Price Index increases every year since the beginning of Stephens-Day. The Consumer Price Index percentage increase is not included in any of the other levying authorities’ bills. If you have any questions, please call 912-652-7271 or 912-447-4856.
When the property was in the name of one spouse, the homestead and Stephens-Day exemptions would be removed. The law has since been amended so that the surviving spouse would be granted the original Stephens-Day value of the deceased spouse. To qualify for this, the property has to be in the name of the unremarried surviving spouse with an application being made in the same manner as the other homestead exemptions.
Property owners who have qualified for the homestead exemption may be qualified for special exemptions that are in addition to the homestead exemption. Special Exemptions are for applicants who meet certain age, income, and disability criteria. Applicants must provide documents for verification such as federal and state income tax returns, DD214, a Veteran’s Administration letter to document 100% disability, or a letter from a Georgia licensed medical physician, etc.
Special Exemptions available include:
Senior School Tax Exemption
School Tax Disability
Special Chatham County
Unremarried Surviving Spouse of US Service Member Killed in Action
Surviving Spouse of Peace Officers and Firefighters Killed in the Line of Duty
City of Savannah
Tax Deferral for the Elderly
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