Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Homestead relief proposals in hindsight

Decatur wasn’t the only city to watch its proposals to expand homestead exemptions die in the state House of Representatives this past session. A bill to exempt Atlanta homeowners over the age of 70 from school taxes was defeated a couple days before the session ended. Goes to show that tax relief proposals aren’t always the lead-pipe cinch we thought they were.

Here was the AJC’s report on the Atlanta bill:

A bid to exempt Atlanta seniors from school taxes fails again 

The Georgia House rejected a measure Tuesday that would let Atlanta voters decide whether to exempt many seniors from paying Atlanta Public Schools taxes amid opposition from critics who worry it would undercut the system’s budget. State Rep. Beth Beskin, a Buckhead Republican, said House Bill 633 would help convince older and more affluent residents from bolting to neighboring counties like Cobb and DeKalb that already offer more generous tax exemptions. 
“There’s a reason seniors aren’t moving to the city of Atlanta and they’re not staying here,” said Beskin, a freshman lawmaker. “I know many people, and I’m sure you do too, who move to adjoining counties because the tax burden is onerous.” 
Atlanta already has an exemption for seniors ages 65 and older who earn $25,000 or less annually. Beskin’s bill would broaden the exemption to all seniors once they turn 70. The measure was approved by Atlanta’s local delegation but failed earlier this session in the House. Atlanta schools officials worry the bill would undermine the system’s fiscal health at a tumultuous time, and it failed to earn two-thirds support amid scattered bipartisan opposition. 

But not all property tax relief bills died this year. DeKalb County’s equalized HOST and property value freeze extensions passed the House and Senate. The legislature also passed a homestead exemption measure for the City of Rutledge in Morgan County that is awaiting the governor’s signature.

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