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.

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