The way is now clear for Cowetans to vote on whether or not to increase school property tax breaks for senior citizens.
Local legislation to increase the senior citizen property tax exemption passed the Georgia Senate on Thursday, after having passed the Georgia House of Representatives on March 5. Local legislation, which deals with specific counties, cities or other jurisdictions, is often voted on as a group of different bills, called the “local calendar."
The county-wide referendum will be held Nov. 5. If voters vote in favor, the new exemptions would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Currently, Coweta homeowners 65 and older have a graduated homestead exemption, based on age, from school system property taxes. Voters will be asked if they want to increase those exemptions.
Homestead exemptions only apply to someone’s homestead – their primary residence. Other types of property, such as rental property or business property, doesn’t qualify for homestead exemptions.
The current exemption is $40,000 for ages 65 to 70, $60,000 for ages 71 to 74, and $80,000 for those 75 and older.
The proposed new exemption is $60,000 for ages 65 to 70, $85,000 for those 71 to 74, and $115,000 for those 75 and older.
Property tax exemptions are subtracted from the “assessed value” of a property, which is set at 40 percent of fair market value.
In practical terms, the proposed higher exemption means that the first $150,0000 of a home’s fair market value would be exempt from school property taxes for those 65 to 70, the first $212,500 of a home’s value for those ages 71-74, and the first $287,500 for those ages 75 and older.