augusta free press news

New legislation in 2020 expands tax exemptions for seniors and the disabled

Kitsap County is expanding their tax exemptions to allow for more seniors and disabled persons to be able to qualify for full or partial exemptions on their taxes. Seniors can save $700 or more through property tax exemptions, allowing for many on a fixed income to be able to afford food and shelter on a little more than $1,000 they receive from Social Security.

The legislation goes into effect in 2020 with the threshold for property tax exemption going from $40,000 or less to being 65% of each country’s median income.

Eligibility cap increases allow seniors to save money on their taxes and will go into effect in 13 counties.

policy legislation
Photo Credit: duncanandison

States are already offering tax breaks to seniors and people with disabilities. Illinois offers a $2,000 reduction on assessed values for anyone with disabilities, and seniors can claim an $8,000 reduction on their home’s assessed value in Cook County.

Several states have been pushing for income caps to be raised. Washington State has been pushing for the law to be passed for a decade, and many experts claim that there has been little science or math behind recent changes in tax codes.

The new law allows for the income cap to remain at $40,000 in areas where the 65% median income does not lower the tax amount.

Savannah will also lower property taxes in 2019 and 2020. The rate will allow for bills due in November and the first bill in 2020. Millage rates will fall, with an assessed value of $100,000 seeing a bill drop from $528 to $514. The rate has held steady at 12.48, much lower than the rate of 16.93 in 1997.

Small businesses owners are expected to greatly benefit from the change. Small business owners do not receive homestead exemptions, so the lower property tax rates may encourage more small business owners to relocate to Savannah.

Atlanta is offering one developer a $3.5 million property tax break over ten years to build a boutique hotel in Fulton County. Property tax breaks are often offered to developers looking to rejuvenate rundown areas.

Georgia’s property tax rates are lower than the national average, with exemptions for homeowners 65 and older and 62 or older with qualifying income. Disabled veterans who qualify may also be able to file for a property tax exemption. The State of Georgia does not charge property tax, so all of a person’s taxes are paid to their respective town to fund local services and programs.