The chance for homeowners to get a reduction in their property taxes is nearing an end for this year in Columbia County.
The deadline for homestead exemptions is June 1. After that, homeowners who have never applied for an exemption will have to wait until next year to do so.
Possible exemptions for county homeowners include both state and county exemptions, depending on whether the homeowner qualifies.
For a state exemption, Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen says a person must be the owner of the property, be a full-time resident of the home and also have lived in the home and owned it as of Jan. 1 this year.
From there, the homeowner must then fill out an application in Allen's office in Building C of the Evans Government Complex.
"You can just come in and you have to sign an oath that those factors are true,'' she said. "And then, once that's in place, that will continue year after year unless there is a change to the deed.''
A change to the deed, she said, would include having someone else's name added to it.
Allen said that right now the state homestead exemption allows for a $2,000 exemption and $8,000 credit for a savings of about $250 in property tax on average.
However, she said the $8,000 credit might not last beyond the end of this year.
The credit, she said, was something started by former Gov. Roy Barnes, and it will be up to the state Legislature whether it should continue into next year.
Without the $8,000 credit, Allen said a homeowner would get about $43 savings in property tax.
Besides a state exemption, there also is a Columbia County exemption for those who turned 62 by Jan. 1 and make a minimum income.
In that case, Allen said the homeowner can't receive both the state and county exemptions but must choose one or the other. She said the county exemption is typically greater than that of the state.
Allen said her office's computer system should have most homeowners' needed information if they purchased their home by Jan. 1, but "it wouldn't hurt for them to bring a warranty deed (when applying for the homestead exemption),'' she said.
The tax commissioners office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and can be reached at 261-8299.
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