Thursday, March 16, 2017

County delegates authority to to waive penalties and interest


The Catoosa County board of commissioners has delegated the authority to waive penalties and interest for unpaid property taxes to the Catoosa County tax commissioner. Previously each decision to approve waivers were coming before the county board. Now the tax commissioner will be able to make these approvals on his own. From the Rome News Tribune:
...Tax Commissioner Gary Autry had adjustments made to how his office will handle penalties and interest fees on property taxes.
County Attorney Skip Patty proposed a resolution giving Autry the power to waive those charges for individuals if he sees fit.
"This would give the tax commissioner the ability to waive only the penalties and interest if the party's failure to pay was not due to willful neglect," Patty said.
In other words, Autry can decided on a case-by-case basis to waive those extra fees if a person accrued the extra debt due to some sort of hardship.
Patty said other counties like nearby Whitfield have this practice, but that long-time tax commissioner Sandra Self didn't want that responsibility, and left those decisions up to the Board of Commissioners.
"This resolution would prevent the board from having to handle each individual case," Patty said. "The tax commissioner would need to make a notation on each case and that would then become public record."
The board unanimously approved the resolution.

In Decatur, the authority to waive penalties and interest rests with the city manager or her designee. Some late payers expect front-line staff to be able to waive their late fees; however, there needs to be some checks and balances in the system. Auditors usually don't like for employees who charge the fees to be the same ones who authorize a waiver of fees.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Influential Georgian touts usefulness of tax incentives


The head of Savannah's development authority was recently named one of the one hundred most influential Georgians in Georgia Trend magazine. Trip Tollison has presided over the creation of an I-16 corridor development authority, the purchase of a massive business park in Chatham County, and the return of 14 unproductive parcels to the local tax digest. He says that programs to defer taxes help get businesses off the ground:
Think about it--10 years ago, these 14 properties collectively were paying less than $225,000 annually in property taxes. So we take 10 years, help the companies get established and grow without the burden of property taxes. Today, those companies are back on the tax digest, where their collective tax bill is now nearly $3 million on an annual basis.
Tax incentives have been controversial in Georgia in recent years. Some school systems have said that they are not always consulted about how development authority tax agreements can affect school revenues.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Decatur tax exemption deadline approaches


If you are a homeowner in Decatur and your home here is your principal residence, you are eligible to apply for the basic homestead exemption from property taxes. Applications for the basic homestead can be made online here. If you have already applied in a previous year, you do not need to reapply. The exemption remains on your home for as long as you continue residing in the property with no changes in ownership.

Exemptions based on age or income can be applied for in-person at City Hall. Please keep in mind that homeowners who are over the age of 65 already have an age-65 exemption known as the GH-2.Taxpayers with the GH-2 on their accounts will automatically receive the new S-4 school exemption, which exempts homeowners over the age of 65 from school taxes.  Information about this and other age-based exemptions can be found at www.decaturga.com/homestead or by calling us the City at 404-370-4100.

Although the City will honor homestead exemption applications submitted up until April 1, please submit your applications by 5:00 p.m. on March 15 in order for your exemption to appear on your 1st installment property tax bill.

Please note that applications made to Decatur and DeKalb are handled separately: if you've only applied with one office, you should check with the other office about your exemption status.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Decatur CoWorks to host business income tax seminar


A senior tax adviser will present income tax strategies for business owners during a lunch & learn at Decatur CoWorks this Thursday, March 16. Decatur CoWorks says:
During this 1 hour presentation Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners will learn:
  • How to lower your self-employment taxes – advantages and risks of an S-corp 
  • The best retirement saving plans 
  • How economic changes may affect you
Chad Swanson, CPA with Burge & Associates will be one of the speakers. Registration for the seminar is $15 which includes a box lunch. This sounds like a great opportunity for local businesses, independent contractors, and administrative staff.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Grace period expiring for tax payments


Property tax payments in Decatur were due on December 20, 2016. A grace period was granted during which no penalties or interest were charged. That grace period will expire this Friday, January 6. Interest will be added to unpaid amounts after that date.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What January 1 means for local taxes


January 1 is a significant date for property taxes and business licenses. Here are a few things that homeowners and business owners should keep in mind for the new year.

Property owners 

Assessments. Property assessments for 2017 conducted by DeKalb County will be based on the status of the property as of January 1. For example, new developments and improvements made prior to January 1 will be factored into 2017 assessments by DeKalb, but improvements made after January 1 would not. If something about your property has changed since last year, such as a demolition, you should file a return with the DeKalb County assessors office between now and April 1 to ensure that the assessors have current information.

Homestead exemptions. Qualifying for age-based homestead exemptions for your property taxes depends on the age of the homeowner as of January 1. If you turned 62, 65, 70, or 80 prior to January 1, you may have become eligible for one or more homestead exemptions offered by Decatur. Homestead exemptions can be applied for with the city between now and March 15, 2017, to ensure that any new exemptions on your account appear on your 1st installment tax bill which will be mailed out by April 1. Call 404-370-4100 for details.  You should also check with DeKalb to determine whether you have become eligible for any additional exemptions with their office.

Billing. Property owners should note what tax officials mean by “the first-of-the-year owner,” or the “January 1 owner.” DeKalb County records the owner as of January 1 and the current owner if ownership changes later in the year. Many times, we are questioned about why a bill or a delinquent notice was sent to the January 1 owner rather than the current owner. Generally speaking, Decatur attempts to notify the current owner of bills that are owed. But there can be delays in reflecting current ownership information, and the January 1 owner may be considered to be responsible for the taxes that year depending on the terms at closing, or at least is responsible for notifying the current owner of any bills that the January 1 owner received for the property. 

Business owners

Although business license payments for 2017 can be made until January 31, please note that 2016 business license certificates in Decatur have expired. Call the Decatur business license office at 678-553-6743 for renewal options.

If your business has more than 10 employees as of January 1, you will need to let the Decatur business license office know your E-Verify number if you haven't already done so. State law says that the E-Verify requirement is based on the number of employees a business had as of January 1.

If you owned a business that closed in 2016 or moved out of Decatur or DeKalb, you should notify the DeKalb County assessors office at 404-371-0841 to ensure that you do not receive a business inventory tax assessment notice and tax bills from DeKalb and Decatur in 2017. If your business is open for the beginning of 2017 you will receive an assessment and tax bill for 2017 even if your business closes or moves later this year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tax office closed Monday


City Hall including the Revenue Division will be closed on Monday, January 2 in observance of the new year.  City departments will reopen on Tuesday, January 3.  For information or payments over the holiday weekend, tax and business license accounts can be accessed online at www.decaturgatax.com.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lawyer taxes due Friday


Occupation taxes for attorneys in Decatur are due on or before Friday, December 30.  Each lawyer is responsible for paying $425 annually.  The tax can be paid online by visiting www.decaturgatax.com, clicking on “Occupation Tax” on the upper left, selecting 2016 as the year, and entering your name as it appears on your bill.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

State announces delay in tax refunds next year


Refunds for Georgia income tax returns in 2017 could take up to three months to be issued.  The Department of Revenue steps they take to verify taxpayer identity take longer and could delay the refunds.  From the AJC:
Georgia warns 2017 state tax refunds could be delayed
Kristina Torres | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
Georgia tax officials said Friday that some 2017 refunds may be delayed due to fraud prevention efforts, a warning that comes after complaints this year that it took longer than usual to process income tax returns. 
Starting next year, all first-time Georgia income tax filers or taxpayers who have not filed here for at least five years will only be able to receive refunds in the form of a paper check and not by electronic transfer.
The state won’t begin processing individual returns until Feb. 1, with officials saying it could take more than 90 days to issue a refund if one is due...
The agency is encouraging taxpayers to register online with the department’s tax center website to monitor the status of their returns. Registered users can also get fraud alerts to notify them when a return has been filed with their Social Security number.
To sign up, go to gtc.dor.ga.gov.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tax office to close Friday and Monday


City Hall, including the property tax office, will be closed from December 23 through December 26 for Christmas.  We will re-open Tuesday, December 27 at 8:00 a.m.  Tax and business license information is available anytime at www.decaturgatax.com.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Grace period offered for tax payments


Although property tax payments in Decatur for the second installment of 2016 were due yesterday, there is a grace period until Friday, January 6, 2017.  No penalties or interest will be added to accounts that are paid within the grace period. Please mail payments to:

City of Decatur Lockbox
P.O. Box 945650
Atlanta, GA 30394-5650