Explanation of Property Taxes
Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source
of revenue for governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation
is the fair market value of the property, which is established January 1
of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property
which, by law, is established at 40% of the fair market value. The
amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by
various entities (1 mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed
value or .001).
Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:
The County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the
constitution and elected in all counties except 2, is the official
Receiving tax returns filed by taxpayers
Receiving and processing applications for homestead exemptions
Serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles
Performing all functions related to billing, collecting, disbursing, and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county
In Lowndes County, the tax assessors have been lawfully delegated with receiving tax returns.
The Lowndes County Board of Assessors, an elected body, is
responsible for determining taxability, value and equalization of all
assessments within the county. The County Board of Assessors notifies
taxpayers when changes are made to the value of the property; receive
and review all appeals filed; and insures that the appeal process
proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by
The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury,
is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative
appeals to property values and assessments made by the board of
assessors (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the
taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the board of equalization at the option
of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed).
The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, establishes
the budget for the county government operations each year, and levies
the mill rate necessary to fund the portions of the budget to be paid
for by ad valorem tax.
The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the
annual budget for school purposes and then recommends their mill rate,
which must be levied for the school board by the county commissioner(s).
The State Revenue Commissioner exercises general oversight of
the entire ad valorem tax process. In addition, the State levies ad
valorem tax each year in an amount, which cannot exceed 1-fourth of 1
mill (.00025). For additional information visit the Department of Revenue.
Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for
taxable property (both real and personal property) owned on January one
of the tax year. In Lowndes County, the time for filing returns is
January 1 through April 1. These returns are filed with the Assessors
office and forms are available in that office. The tax return is a
listing of property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer's declaration
of the value of the property.
Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic
renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally
determined for the preceding year. The taxpayer is required to file a
new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements are
made to existing property, or other changes occur. A new return, filed
during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to declare a
different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is
dissatisfied with the current value placed on the property by the Board
of Assessors. This serves the purpose of establishing the taxpayer's
appeal rights if the Board of Assessors change the declared value again.