Frequently asked questions:
Property tax is an ad valorem tax based upon the value of property, both real and personal. Real property is defined as land and generally anything that is erected, growing, or affixed to the land. Personal property is boats, airplanes, business inventory, and any equipment, furniture, and fixtures needed to run a business.
Property taxes are charged against the owner of the property of January 1st, and against the property itself if the owner is not known. Property tax returns are to be filed between January 1st and April 1st with the county tax assessor’s office.
Fair Market Value
The Assessors are charged with establishing the fair market value of the taxable real and personal properties in Jones County. Fair market value means “the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept for the property at an arm’s length, bona fide sale.”
The Board of Assessors does not create property values. Assessors and appraisers merely interpret what is happening in the market place. The appraised value is simply the estimate of what the property is worth.
The Assessors use standard approaches in setting the value on all real and personal property. There are three approaches to value:
Special Assessment Programs
There are special assessment programs available to taxpayers. These special programs include:
Preferential Agricultural Property
Bona fide agricultural property can be assessed at 75 percent of the assessment of other property. This means that this type of property is assessed at 30 percent of fair market value rather than 40 percent. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in its current use for a period of ten years.
Conservation Use Property
Bona fide agricultural property can be assessed at its current use value rather than the fair market value. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in a current use for a period of ten years.
Environmentally Sensitive Property
Property can be assessed at its current use value rather than the fair market value when such property is maintained in its natural condition and meets the requirements set by the Department of Natural Resources. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in a current use for a period of ten years.
Residential Transitional Property
Property can be assessed at its current use value, rather than fair market value, when it is used for residential purposes but located in an area that is changing to, or being developed for, a use other than residential.
Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. There are three types of sales and harvests that are taxable:
• lump sum sales where the timber is sold at a specific price regardless of volume
• unit price sales where the timber is sold or harvested based on a specific price per volume
• owner harvests where a land owner harvests his own timber and sells it by volume.
Equipment, Machinery, and Fixtures
Equipment, machinery, and fixtures are assessed at 40 percent of fair market value. The tax assessor may value the equipment, machinery, and fixtures of a going business to reflect the fair market value of the business as a whole. When no ready market exists for the sale of equipment, machinery, and fixtures, a fair market value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant, and useful information available. This information may include, but is not limited to, the original cost of the property, depreciation or obsolescence, and any increase in value by reason of inflation. Other determining factors include:
• existing zoning of property
• existing use of property
• existing covenant or restrictions in deed dedicating the property to a particular use
• any other important factors.
Tax assessors have access to any public records in order to discover such information.
Homestead, School, Disabled Veterans, and Preferential Agriculture:
Property tax is one of the primary sources of revenue for Jones County. It is used to fund police and fire services, education, roads, bridges, water, parks, and other county services. The basis for property tax is the fair market value of the property, which is established on January 1 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessment value, which by law is established at 40 percent of fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the millage rate. (One mill of tax is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.)
We accept applications year round. Applications for the current year must be made prior to April 1 of the year the application is being sought. Once you have applied for an exemption, you do not need to reapply unless you move to another location.
You may be eligible for conservation use or preferential agricultural assessment exemption if you are in good faith agricultural/forest production. This would include; producing plants, trees, fowl or animals, or the production of aquaculture, horticulture, floriculture, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry and apiarian products.
With both programs, you enter into a 10 year covenant with Jones County whereby you agree to continue your property in agricultural or forestry production. Agricultural preferential assessment generally provides a 25 percent advantage over fair market value. Conservation use can offer significant savings, in some cases greater than 50 percent of fair market value.
Residential Transitional Exemption:
If you live in an area that is in a transition form from residential to commercial use, and it is affecting the value of your property, you may apply for a residential transitional assessment covenant. This is also a 10-year covenant. For all three, apply between January 2 and April 1.
The county board of tax assessors must send an annual assessment notice which gives the taxpayer information on filing an appeal on real property (such as land and buildings affixed to the land). If the county board of tax assessors disagrees with the taxpayer’s return on personal property (such as airplanes, boats or business equipment and inventory), the board must send an assessment notice which gives the taxpayer information on filing an appeal.
Upon receipt of this Assessment Notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the assessment may do so within 45 days of the date the Assessment Notice was mailed. The taxpayer’s appeal may be based on taxability, value, uniformity, and/or the denial of an exemption. The written appeal is filed initially with the Board of Tax Assessors. The state of Georgia provides a uniform appeal form for use by property owners. In that initial written dispute, the property owner must declare their chosen method of appeal.
The taxpayer must select one of the three options below when filing an appeal:
1. Appeal to the County Board of Equalization
2. Appeal to a Hearing Officer
3. Appeal to an Arbitrator
If the county board of tax assessors has adopted a written policy consenting to electronic service, the taxpayer may email an appeal to the board of assessors.
The Department of Revenue may not over-ride the board of assessors, board of equalization, hearing officer, arbitrator or Superior Court regarding individual appraisals and assessments. The Local Government Services Division of the Georgia Department of Revenue is charged with general supervision of ad valorem tax administration across the state including; annual approval of tax digests; the training and certification of tax officials; and regularly scheduled audits of each of the 159 county boards of assessors.