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Disabled veterans to get tax refunds from county

Posted: July 17, 2012 - 7:27pm

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Some disabled veterans in Columbia County will receive an extra check in the mail around Thanksgiving this year.

The funds, likely to average about $1,100, are a result of tax overcharges to roughly 345 disabled veterans with homestead exemptions, said Commission Chairman Ron Cross.

The federal government raised the homestead exemption allowed for disabled veterans after 2007 from $50,000 to the current $63,780, Cross said. Either the states weren't notified after the change, he said, or the state failed to notify local tax officials.

The Georgia Department of Revenue notified counties in April and provided more details in June. Since then, the county tax office has been reviewing tax records for the past five years, finding out which veterans had exemptions in each year, and determining the amount each is owed, Cross said.

Qualified veterans won't have to take any action to receive the refund.

"We don't want them to have to jump through hoops," said County Administrator Scott Johnson. "They overpaid their taxes. We're going to give it back."

Cross said the county expects to first calculate how much each veteran is due for each year he or she has been allowed an exemption. The current plan is to try to have the refunds ready to mail by November.

The total amount overcharged from the four-year period is just more than $401,000, ranging from an $81,000 overcharge in 2008 to just more than $106,000 in 2011. The taxable amounts for 2012 already have been adjusted so those affected are seeing accurate bills this year, according to a calculation sheet from the county.

Funding for refunds will be spread among the county's four government entities: the county, school board, Grovetown and Harlem, based on their current share of total tax revenues, Cross said, with the bulk of the total - more than $250,000 - coming from the school system.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners awarded a bid of $3.1 million to Garnto and Gearig Bros. Construction of Evans for site preparation at the new athletic complex and park behind the Lakeside school complex.

The 70-acre complex is a joint venture of the county and the school system. Site work is expected to begin in August and take about six months, and will provide a rear entrance to the property, along with water, sewer and storm drains and rough clearing.

Full construction, split between the school board and county, isn't expected to begin for at least another year or so, officials have said, with all funding for the project coming from sales taxes.

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Comments (8)


Great, now fix the first year Ms Tax Commissioner

This is a good thing, but Veterans who should have an exemption end paying the full first year of taxes when they buy a home. LEGALLY, the taxes should be split between all the owner of the land throughout the year. The law links taxes to the land owner/developer who owns the home on 01 JAN of the year. After a purchase, our county just sends the tax bill to the current occupant/owner. If its an veteran eligible for the disabled veteran homestead exemption, he winds up paying the full taxes the first year because he can't file an exemption until he lives in his new home on 01 JAN of the next year. Instead of understanding the intent of the law and taking action to protect veterans, our tax commissioner has found a way to maximize her tax collections on the backs of disabled veterans during thier first year of home ownersip.


all pay this "penalty" for after Jan 1

purchases. A "closing surprise". Surprise. We told you we would pay the taxes on this property, but we cannot legally. Oh well. The collection without chance of homestead exemption covers for the non payment of taxes while the property is under development. Which benefits the developer and CC. A win win situation. Almost.


funny how this slipped by

all these caring politicians having photos taken with service men and women. Oops


Please explain the Homestead Exemption

I happen to be retired military with a VA disability who bought a home in late 2003, but I have no idea what this is all about. That said, can I safely assume it doesn't affect me? Someone please explain - thank you.


Barry Paschal

Homestead exemptions

Oldfella: Homeowners are allowed a "homestead exemption" on their residence. This means that the taxable value of the property is reduced by a specific amount, applied to all personal residences. (It doesn't apply to rental properties.) If you own your home, and are a disabled veteran, you are entitled to an exemption that is higher than the standard homestead exemption. That means you pay taxes on a smaller portion of the taxable value of your residence. However, you have to apply for the exemption to receive it, and if you haven't already had the exemption, you probably wouldn't be qualified for it retroactively. I'd suggest calling the Columbia County tax office if you're uncertain: (706) 261-8299. Richmond County also will be issuing refunds.


oldfella, your broker should have

advised you to apply for a homestead exemption. like we said, a closing surprise of sorts. say if you purchased after Jan 1st. you are told that the deadline for filing homestead is Apr 15th. But the surprise is that your cannot apply for the current year because you did not own the property Jan 1. Gotcha. There are numerous exemptions, for age, income, school, or total. You seriously need to go to the tax office. Homestead exemptions have been around for at least the last 150 years. You could possibly save an additional 40% off your taxes.


shame on your broker

so much paperwork and too little time to read. Buyer Beware has never been more needed.

Barry Paschal

Current year taxes

Soapy_725: Unless I am mistaken, the owner of record for a property on Jan. 1 is liable for the taxes, and when the property is sold taxes typically are part of the closing agreement. The owner can't apply for a homestead exemption in that year because, technically, he isn't the owner of the home for tax purposes - but he also isn't liable for taxes in that year (depending on the closing agreement) and thus wouldn't benefit from a homestead exemption anyway. A discount from zero is still zero.

If a Realtor or attorney would like to chime in, it would be useful.