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 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.