Property Tax FAQ

Property Tax FAQ

What is property taxation?

Property tax is an ad valorem tax, which means according to value. Ad valorem tax, the tax collected by the tax commissioner, is based on the value of the taxable property in the county.

What property is taxed?

All real estate, personal property, mobile homes, and motor vehicles are taxable unless law has exempted the property. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-3) Real property is land and generally anything that is erected, growing or affixed to the land; personal property is everything that can be owned that is not real estate. Personal property typically consists of inventory and fixtures used in conducting business, boats, aircraft, and farm machinery. Personal household property is not normally taxable.

Who decides how much my property is worth for tax purposes?

The Board of Assessors and their staff have the sole responsibility and authority of determining the value of property in Wilkinson County. Each year between January 1 and April 1, every property owner has the ability to declare a proposed value for their property. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-9) These values are declared in the manner of ‘filing a return.’ Returns for real estate and personal property are filed in the Tax Assessors’ Office. The Board of Assessors will review your proposed value, and if they disagree, an assessment notice with the Boards’ value will be mailed to you.

What if I disagree with the Tax Assessors’ value?

If the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the value placed on the property, the taxpayer has the right to appeal this value within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal may be based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. The written appeal must initially be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors and must state their chosen method of appeal. For more information regarding appeals, please call the Tax Assessors’ Office.

Does the Tax Commissioner report to or control the Board of Assessors?

No, the Tax Commissioner is an independent and elected office separate from both the Board of Assessors and the Board of Commissioners.

Where do property tax dollars go?

  • Property tax dollars support administration of county government and the public school system.
  • Build and maintain public buildings; bridges and county roads
  • Pay expenses of courts; county jail and law enforcement
  • Provide fire protection
  • Provide for public health and sanitation
  • This is an abbreviated list of how tax dollars are used to support local government projects. Please see the Georgia Code for a complete list. (O.C.G.A. 48-5-220)

What is the difference between fair market value and assessed value?

The Fair Market Value is the 100% value as determined by the Board of Assessors. The Assessed value is defined as being 40% of the Fair Market Value. Property is taxed on the 40% Assessed Value less any exemptions.

What is a millage rate?

The tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.

Who sets the millage rates?

Millage rates are set by the Board of Education, and the Board of Commissioners.

What determines an individual property tax amount?

The amount for tax is calculated using a combination of the property value and the millage rate.

How is my tax statement calculated?

Once the property owner and the Board of Assessors have come to terms with an appropriate value, this value is provided to the Tax Commissioner for tax calculation. To calculate a tax statement, first deduct any exemptions that may apply from the assessed value which generates a net assessed (taxable) value. Then, multiply the net assessed value by the millage rate.

When will I receive a property tax statement?

Property tax for real estate and personal property is mailed by October 20th.
Property tax for mobile/manufactured homes is mailed by February 1.
Motor vehicle renewals are mailed 60 days prior to the birth. Several exemptions and special assessment programs are available that may apply. The most common are the homestead exemption for real estate and the freeport exemption for business personal property. Contact the Wilkinson County Tax Assessors’ Office (478.946.2076) for details of the available special assessment programs and Homestead exemptions date of the primary owner.

Do you send my tax statement to my mortgage company? 

Tax statements are mailed to the homeowner, never to the mortgage company. It is the property owner’s responsibility to forward the bill to the mortgage company if necessary. Please contact your mortgage company directly if you have any questions, especially if your mortgage company has recently changed.

What is and how do I file for homestead exemption?

Homestead exemption, developed by the State of Georgia, exempts from taxation a specified amount of assessed value of your home. Homestead exemption applications are processed by the Tax Assessors’ Office. To qualify, you must both own and occupy your home as of January 1, you must file for the exemption no later than April 1st. If you have qualified for homestead exemption and remain in the same house, reapplication is not needed. However, if you move, you will need to reapply for the exemption.

Is there any way to reduce my tax?

Yes. Several exemptions and special assessment programs are available that may apply. The most common are the homestead exemption for real estate and the freeport exemption for business personal property.

What if my payment is late?

If payment is late, the following interest and penalty will be added to the balance owed:

Interest is applied monthly equal to prime rate plus three percent (3%) per annum.

A five percent (5%) penalty will be added to the unpaid principle 120 days from the due date. An additional 5% penalty (on the unpaid principle) will accrue again every 120 days until a maximum of 20% of the original principle has been charged.

Do you accept postmarks?

Yes, we honor U.S.P.S. (United States Postal Service) dated postmarks (only) as confirmation of an on-time payment for current year tax owed. Meter-dated postmarks are not honored. In the event of delinquent tax, we strongly encourage our taxpayers to bring the payment in person, especially if legal action (levy and advertisement of tax sale) has already started.

What if I cannot pay in full by the due date?

The Tax Commissioner does accept partial payments, and taxpayers are welcome to make as many payments as needed to pay off the balance; however, penalties and interest continue to accrue on the outstanding balance. Any account with an outstanding balance will be subject to a lien; therefore, the Tax Commissioner encourages full payment of any outstanding balance as soon as possible.

What is a lien/FiFa?

A lien, also known as a FiFa, is defined as “a claim, encumbrance, or charge on a taxpayer’s property to obtain payment of overdue taxes” (Georgia Department of Revenue). Prior to the issuance of a FiFa, a 30-day notice of intent is mailed to the owner of record. This notice will warn of a possible FiFa and will allow payment in full to the account within 30 days. FiFas are recorded on the General Execution Docket of the Clerk of the Superior Court and remain in effect for seven years.

Will paying my taxes late affect my credit?

When tax remains unpaid for more than 90 days after the due date, the tax is subject to a tax FiFa (lien) being recorded in the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court. Such records are public, and credit bureaus may access them which may be used to adversely affect your credit. The tax office does not report to credit bureaus and has no control of how they use the information or how often they update their records.

If I have a FiFa (lien), how do I get it cancelled?

Payment of outstanding tax along with applicable fees, penalties and interest will serve to cancel the FiFa.