Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Property tax exemption not always automatic for Georgia charities
In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed the denial of tax-exempt status for tax years 2008 and 2009 for a property owned by a Fulton County charity. H.O.P.E. for Divine Interventions, an organization providing services to needy families, was entitled to the exemption in 2010 and subsequent years when it actually delivered charitable services, but not from 2008-09 while the gutted apartment building H.O.P.E owned was being constructed and renovated.
H.O.P.E. argued that the construction and renovation of the property was a necessary step in its ultimate purpose of housing formerly homeless tenants, and asserted that the building was never used for any non-charitable purpose. But the Court of Appeals found that the tax code does not exempt properties from taxes where charitable use is still being planned.
The firm of Sutherland, Asbill, & Brennan LLP has a short analysis of the decision and a link to the full ruling here.
In Decatur, property owners can apply for tax-exempt status through the DeKalb County assessor’s office. For tax purposes, the City of Decatur uses the taxable or tax-exempt status that DeKalb determines.
In 2012, the assessed value of tax-exempt property in Decatur is $87 million out of $1.2 billion in total assessed value, or 7 percent of underlying property value in the city.