Walton County Government

The Walton County Tax Assessors Office

 

Tommy Knight

Chief Appraiser

Walton County Board of Assessors

Telephone #    (770) 267-1352
Fax #              (770) 267-1007

www.qpublic.net/ga/walton

 

The Walton County Board of Tax Assessors is appointed for fixed terms by the Walton County Board of Commissioners. The County Board of Tax Assessors is responsible for determining taxability, value, and equalization of all assessments within the county. The County Board of Tax Assessors notifies taxpayers when changes are made to the value of the property; receives and reviews all appeals filed; and ensures that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.

What we do:

  • Establish fair market value of all properties within Walton County
  • Perform statistical analysis to ensure proper value compliance
  • Compile consolidation reports and worksheets (values and exemptions)
  • Calculate Millage Rate Rollback Forms
  • Forward digest amount to the Walton County Board of Commissioners, school boards, and cities
  • Certify and submit digest to Georgia Department of Revenue (with the Tax Commissioner)

The tax digest consists of a listing of assessments and exemptions, including real and personal property, timber, mobile homes, motor vehicles, heavy duty equipment, and public utilities.

The Walton County Tax Assessors Office establishes property values only; tax bill related questions should be directed to the Walton County Tax Commissioner.

Why we do it:

Assessing the value of property is vital to ensuring appropriate taxes are levied on property and that the County has the necessary funds to provide its citizens with needed services.

What happens if we don’t:

The State of Georgia Department of Audits & Accounts (DOAA) performs Sales Ratio Studies of all counties every year. This is a statistical test to determine if values are in compliance with market sales. If DOAA statistical standards are not met, the county will be subject to several sanctions which include:

  • $5/parcel fine, which would be about $210,000 for Walton County
  • Forfeiture of all grant monies from the state of Georgia
  • Board of Education Funding from the State reduced to equal lower assessment ratio
  • Independent School Funding (Social Circle) reduced to equal the lower assessment ratio
  • Complete revaluation will be ordered to bring values back in compliance to meet statistical test

To search tax assessment data click the link below:

http://www.qpublic.net/ga/walton/

 

Tax Appraiser Visitation

The Walton County Appraisal Staff or Authorized Walton County Tax Assessor Representative may be visiting your property in accordance with O.C.G.A 48-5-264.1 to review your parcel information concerning an appeal filed, return filed, construction of new improvements or additions, review of parcel, conservation use application, and personal property verification.  This includes all residential, manufactured homes, commercial, industrial, and exempt properties.

The Walton County Appraiser or Walton County Tax Assessor representative will have a photo identification badge and will be driving an appropriately marked vehicle.  If there is any question about the identity of the appraiser or representative, do not hesitate to contact our office at 770-267-1352.

This appraiser or representative does not set values at the time of their visit and will only gather the necessary property information including exterior measurements, various coding, exterior photos, etc. The appraiser/representative will ask questions concerning the interior characteristics.  Collecting this information does not normally require an interior inspection.  Interior inspection and measuring would only be requested to properly gather the correct square footage. Answering any questions and complying with a request for interior inspection is purely voluntary on the home owner’s or occupant’s behalf.  Otherwise, an estimate of interior measurements and characteristics will be done from outside the structure.

If you have any further questions, please call our office at 770-267-1352.

 

Homestead Exemptions

Forms for homestead exemptions must be filed with the Walton County Board of Tax Assessors between January 1 and April 1 to receive exemption for that year. The form can be filed later than April 1, but the exemption will not apply until the following year.

Each county in the state of Georgia can provide local homestead exemptions that are above the minimal amounts the state sets. In 2003, the voters of Walton County approved new homestead exemptions. While not all inclusive, the following is a brief summation of these exemptions.

  1. 1. Senior Citizens: (age 65 or over as of January 1) Your house and up to one acre are exempt from Walton County school tax. County tax will still apply.
  2. 2. Regular Homestead: This will reduce your taxable (assessed) value by $4,000 for county purposes and $2,000 for school purposes.
  3. 3. Totally Disabled: The person seeking this exemption must prove he/she has a medically demonstrable condition which renders that person wholely and permanently unable to gain employment. A licensed physician affidavit must be provided by anyone seeking this exemption. This exemption is tied to a net income limit of $15,000.
  4. 4. Disabled Veteran: 100% disabled by VA or less than 100%, but paid at the 100% rate due to unemployability. Surviving unremarried spouse or minor children may be eligible also.
  5. 5. Unremarried Surviving Spouse of a Peace Officer or Firefighter Killed in the Line of Duty

Please inquire at the Tax Assessors office or call 770-267-1352 for additional details on these exemptions. You cannot file online; these must be filed in person due to the sensitivity of the information required. Once filed, you do not need to reapply as this exemption will carry over year-to-year as long as you own the property. The only time you would need to reapply is when you reach the age of  65 or if you qualify for a different exemption than the one you have.

How to contact the Walton County Tax Assessors Office

303 S Hammond Drive

Suite 109

Monroe, GA 30655

770-267-1352

We are open 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

http://www.qpublic.net/ga/walton/

 

General Information

Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source of revenue for governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property, which is established January 1st of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of the fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by various entities (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value or .001).

Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:

The County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the Constitution and elected in all counties except two, is the official responsible for serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles and performing all functions related to billing, collecting, disbursing, and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county. In Walton County, the tax assessors have been lawfully delegated with receiving tax returns.

The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioner(s) in all counties except one, is responsible for determining taxability, value, and equalization of all assessments within the county. The County Board of Tax Assessors notifies taxpayers of the value of their property; receives and reviews all appeals filed; and ensures that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.

The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the Board of Tax Assessors (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the Board of Equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed). The Clerk of Superior Court is responsible for oversight of the Board of Equalization.

The Board of County Commissioners, an elected body, establishes the budget for county government operations each year, and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portions of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.

The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for school purposes and then recommends their mill rate, which, with very few exceptions, must be levied for the school board by the county commissioners.

Assessment Programs for Agricultural Use Properties

Two general types of assessment programs are available for certain owners of certain types of property. One of these programs is preferential assessment at 30% instead of 40% of the fair market value for certain agricultural properties.

The second type of and most used program is Conservation Use assessment which provides that certain agricultural property, timber and land property, environmentally sensitive property, or residential transitional property is to be valued and assessed for ad valorem tax purposes at its current use value rather than its fair market value. This value is established by the Department of Revenue based on soil productivity. For more information on Conservation Use we have included the following information:

What Is Conservation Use?

Conservation Use was approved by an overwhelming majority of Georgia voters in an effort to encourage agricultural landowners to keep their land in production in exchange for favorable tax treatment. This favorable tax treatment is designed to protect these property owners from being pressured by the property tax burden to convert their land from agricultural use to residential or commercial use, hence the name ''conservation use'' assessment. In return for the favorable tax treatment, the property owner must keep the land undeveloped in a qualifying use for a period of ten years on incur stiff penalties.

Applications for current use assessment must be filed with the County Board of Tax Assessors on or before the last day for filing ad valorem tax returns in the county (April 1). A $12.00 recording fee must accompany all applications.

Qualifications

  • Owner must be an individual or family farm corporation, estate, trust, or non-profit organization.
  • Owner agrees to maintain the property in a qualifying use of ''good faith'' production of agricultural products or timber for 10 years.
  • Owner cannot have over 2,000 acres statewide in the Conservation Use Program.
  • The Tax Assessors Office may request additional information regarding the use of the property if the office feels it is necessary to determine if the property qualifies for the exemption. Information that may be requested is Schedule F (Profit or Loss from Farm Income), Form 4562 Depreciation, or Crop Production Records the owner maintains. (Mandatory on parcels less than 10 acres)

Conservation Use Values

  • Conservation values are set by the state of Georgia and cannot be appealed by the taxpayer; however, the Board of Tax Assessors must still maintain the fair market value on the property.
  • The maximum amount that conservation values may be increased is 3% per year or a maximum of 34.39% over the 10-year covenant.
  • Agricultural buildings may be included in the covenant. Although the current values will not change on the buildings, these buildings would be subject only to the 3% per year maximum increase. This does not apply to the primary residence.

Breach of Contract

  • If the owner breaks the covenant, a penalty of twice the taxes saved by the taxpayer will be imposed, and interest at the rate of 1% per month will be assessed, if not immediately reported.
  • If the covenant is broken as a result of death or eminent domain (condemnation), no penalty will be assessed.
  • If the covenant is broken as a result of medically demonstrable illness or foreclosure, the penalty will be the amount of taxes saved for the current year only.
  • Leases or contracts for billboard signs, cellular towers, or any type of non-qualifying use will breach the covenant and all penalties will apply. Hunting leases are allowed.
  • If the property is sold, and if the purchaser continues using the property as it was originally covenanted, then no penalty would be assessed. Purchaser must sign covenant agreeing to no change in use. However, the taxpayer should be aware that if the use changes during the 10-year period all penalties would apply.

Other Facts

  • If the owner desires to omit a portion of a tract from the covenant they must present to the assessor’s satisfaction a clearly defined description of the portion under the covenant and a clearly defined description of the portion not under the covenant.
  • The property owner may give up to 5.0 acres to a relative within the 4th degree of civil reckoning provided that relative builds a house on the property received within one year and resides in the house for the remainder of the 10-year period.
  • Property is allowed to lie fallow or idle for up to 2 years within any 5-year period.
  • Property owners over age 65 who renew their covenant may elect after 3 years into the second 10-year covenant to terminate the covenant by filing in writing a declaration with the Tax Assessors' office.

Each of these specialized or preferential programs requires the property owner to covenant with the Board of Tax Assessors to maintain the property in its qualified use for at least 10 years in order to qualify for the preference. The Board of Tax Assessors can explain the ownership and use restrictions regarding property qualifying for either of these programs. Substantial penalties result if the covenant is broken. Additional information is available at: http://dor.georgia.gov/

 

Freeport Exemption

The governing authority of any county or municipality may, subject to the approval of the electors of such political subdivision, except from ad valorem taxation, including all such taxes levied for educational purposes and for state purposes, all or any of the following types of tangible property. Application for this exemption must be made each year by April 1 in order to receive the maximum exemption on qualifying inventory.

  • Inventory of goods in the process of manufacture or production, which shall include all partly finished goods and raw materials, held for direct use or consumption in the ordinary course of the taxpayer's manufacturing or production business in the State of Georgia.
  • Inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within the State of Georgia in the ordinary course of the taxpayer's manufacturing or production business when held by the original manufacturer or producer of such finished goods. The exemption provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months from the date such property is produced or manufactured.
  • Inventory of finished goods which, on the first day of January, are stored in a warehouse, dock, or wharf, whether public or private, and which are destined for shipment to a final destination outside the State of Georgia and inventory of finished goods which are shipped into the State of Georgia from outside the State and stored for transshipment to a final destination outside this State. The exemption provided for herein shall be for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months from the date such property is stored in this State.

For further details on Freeport exemption, read O.C.G.A. 48-5-48.2 in its entirety or contact the Tax Assessors office. Also use the following link: Click Here

 

Assessment Appeals

All property owners shall receive a current notice of assessment before June 1 of each year.  Upon receipt of this notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the change in value must do so within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors, which reviews the appeal filed and informs the taxpayer of its decision. If the Board of Tax Assessors makes no changes, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the County Board of Equalization. A hearing is scheduled, conducted, and the Board of Equalization renders its decision. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.

In lieu of an administrative appeal with the Board of Equalization, an arbitration method of appeal is also available to the taxpayer. This method requires the appealant to obtain an appraisal within 45 days of the appeal. The Board of Tax Assessors can provide details regarding this procedure.

The assessment appeal may be made on the basis of taxability of the property, the value placed upon the property, or the uniformity of that value when compared to other similar properties in the county. The appeal must be filed within the applicable time period and cannot be filed after that time. Additionally, the appeal should not be based on any complaint regarding the amount of taxes levied on the property.
For more information on the Appeals Process please go to:
https://dor.georgia.gov/property-tax-appeals