Lumpkin County's Generous Senior Property Tax Exemption

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Since: Sep 11

Alto, GA

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#1
Dec 14, 2011
 

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I wrote the following Letter to the Editor of the Dahlonega Nugget which appeared in today's paper:

"The article "Tax Collections take $300,000 dip this year" in the November 23, 2011 of the Nugget contained an error in the count of the number of seniors claiming the Senior Tax Exemption in the County. The article states that there were 1502 in 2010 and 1665 in 2011. The correct numbers are 1872 in 2010 and 2030 in 2011.

There are actually two different groups of seniors claiming the Senior Exemption. One group consists of those who were receiving the senior exemption that existed prior to 2009 when the new exemption went into effect. These folks were automatically granted the new exemption in 2009. The second group are the new seniors who first qualified for the new senior exemption in 2009 and subsequently. In 2011, there are 365 seniors in the first group and 1665 in the second. All of this information comes from the official 2011 Lumpkin County Tax Digest on file in the Tax Commissioner's office.

It is worth noting that these two groups are receiving slightly different benefits. The first group of 365 seniors who qualified prior to 2009 are receiving the combined benefits of the State 65+ means-tested Senior Exemption and the new 2009 County Exemption. They get an exemption of $175,000 county and $340,000 schools expressed as fair market value (not assessed value). The State 65+ Exemption is means tested so these seniors qualified by having pension/Social Security income of $55,742 (for 2011) or less and non-pension (1040 adjusted gross) income of $10,000 or less.

The second group of 1665 seniors qualified for the County Senior Exemption starting in 2009 when the income means test was removed. These seniors are receiving the combined benefits of the State 65+ Senior Exemptions (with no means test) and the new 2009 County Exemption. They get an exemption of $170,000 county and $320,000 schools expressed at fair market value. Many folks are probably not aware that seniors are actually receiving two senior tax exemptions are the same time, one from the State and another from the County. The 2009 County Senior Exemption law was written in such a way as to make this happen."

Seniors living in Union County may want to consider a move to Lumpkin. Real estate prices are low.
He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#2
Dec 14, 2011
 

Thank you, good information.

Since: Mar 11

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#3
Dec 14, 2011
 

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Porter Springs wrote:
I wrote the following Letter to the Editor of the Dahlonega Nugget which appeared in today's paper:
"The article "Tax Collections take $300,000 dip this year" in the November 23, 2011 of the Nugget contained an error in the count of the number of seniors claiming the Senior Tax Exemption in the County. The article states that there were 1502 in 2010 and 1665 in 2011. The correct numbers are 1872 in 2010 and 2030 in 2011.
There are actually two different groups of seniors claiming the Senior Exemption. One group consists of those who were receiving the senior exemption that existed prior to 2009 when the new exemption went into effect. These folks were automatically granted the new exemption in 2009. The second group are the new seniors who first qualified for the new senior exemption in 2009 and subsequently. In 2011, there are 365 seniors in the first group and 1665 in the second. All of this information comes from the official 2011 Lumpkin County Tax Digest on file in the Tax Commissioner's office.
It is worth noting that these two groups are receiving slightly different benefits. The first group of 365 seniors who qualified prior to 2009 are receiving the combined benefits of the State 65+ means-tested Senior Exemption and the new 2009 County Exemption. They get an exemption of $175,000 county and $340,000 schools expressed as fair market value (not assessed value). The State 65+ Exemption is means tested so these seniors qualified by having pension/Social Security income of $55,742 (for 2011) or less and non-pension (1040 adjusted gross) income of $10,000 or less.
The second group of 1665 seniors qualified for the County Senior Exemption starting in 2009 when the income means test was removed. These seniors are receiving the combined benefits of the State 65+ Senior Exemptions (with no means test) and the new 2009 County Exemption. They get an exemption of $170,000 county and $320,000 schools expressed at fair market value. Many folks are probably not aware that seniors are actually receiving two senior tax exemptions are the same time, one from the State and another from the County. The 2009 County Senior Exemption law was written in such a way as to make this happen."
Seniors living in Union County may want to consider a move to Lumpkin. Real estate prices are low.
How does Lumpkin county make up for the loss of tax revenue? Could we just borrow your commissioners and school board for a while?
Truth hurts sometimes

Cleveland, GA

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#4
Dec 14, 2011
 

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Reb Blairsville wrote:
<quoted text>How does Lumpkin county make up for the loss of tax revenue? Could we just borrow your commissioners and school board for a while?
You know some people are never satisfied with they have and the way things are. They get mad at the school system, jerk their children out and move them just because their clout was not what they thought it was!

Since: Sep 11

Alto, GA

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#5
Dec 14, 2011
 
Maybe the voters of Lumpkin didn't know what they were doing when they voted in the Senior Exemption in November 2008 by over 80%. The ballot said:
"() YES
() NO
Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from Lumpkin County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in the amount of $60,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that county who are 65 years of age or older or who are disabled?"
"() YES
() NO
Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption from Lumpkin County school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes in the amount of $120,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents of that school district who are 65 years of age or older or who are disabled?"
What the ballot didn't say:
1) The new County Senior Exemption was being combined with the corresponding State Senior Exemption.
2) The term "assessed value" is misleading since it is 40% of fair market value. Stated in terms of "fair market value" the exemption was much larger.
3) The State means test was removed. The ballot text says nothing about this.
4) Lumpkin's State Representative defined the ballot proposition and told voters shortly before the election that passage would cost Juniors "less that a cup of Latte at Starbucks".
5. Nothing was said about the combined effects of this Senior Exemption and the Conservation Use Assessment exemption. Seniors can get both exemptions on the same parcel.
As a result of all of this it is commonplace for Seniors in Lumpkin who live on parcels with a fair market value of $170,000 or less to pay $0 property taxes. It is even better for Seniors living on Conservation Use land where the land is assessed at current use and not fair market value. Then it is possible to have $500,000 in property assessed at fair market value and pay $0 in property taxes.
In 2010 Conservation Use land in Lumpkin was valued at 12% of fair market value.
Over 80% of the voters voted for this in 2008 so it is not going away soon.
He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#6
Dec 14, 2011
 

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The State Senior exemption you are referring to applies to every Senior in the State. I usually only amounts to a few dollars on a $200,000 assessed property.

Now the other 2 exemptions sound like a good deal for Seniors although most Counties only do a complete school tax exemption.
In other words, in most counties seniors do not pay the school tax.

The county tax exemption of $60,000 is a darn good deal for Seniors.

And the conservation exemption is a DIRTY little secret that most of the rich use in order the for middle and lower class to pay most of the taxes.


Since: Sep 11

Dawsonville, GA

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#7
Dec 15, 2011
 
to He ck. There are actually two State exemptions for 65+ seniors, one means tested and one not. They are described here, but look to the bottom of the page to get the correct details. https://etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/adm/taxguide/exem...

I prefer to describe these exemptions in terms of fair market value and not accessed value. Accessed value is 40% of fair market value and makes the exemptions look smaller than they really are. A $2000 accessed value exemption is really a $5000 fair market value exemption.

In Lumpkin, the two State Senior exemptions were combined with the new County exemption to create $170,000 and $175,000 exemptions for County taxes expressed as fair market value. The schools exemptions are $320,000 and $340,000 fmv.

And Lumpkin County removed any means test for the $170,000/$320,000 fmv benefit.

These are huge property tax exemptions. Are they the best in the entire State? Does anyone know where you can get a better deal?
He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#8
Dec 15, 2011
 

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So why are you using a FMV number for exemptions when the State, the County, the Assessor and most everyone uses Assessed values?

The exemptions on the link you gave are State exemptions, not County exemptions. What this means is all Counties must give everyone the State exemptions they qualify for.
Most Seniors would qualify $4,000 for county m&o and $10,000 for Schools.

With exception, some seniors would qualify with low incomes or disabilities.

County exemptions are in addition to, not a replacement of State exemptions.

Most counties will give a percentage or floating scale for school taxes, some as much as 100%. Very few give exemptions for county m&o.

Either Lumpkin county has made a good deal for seniors or they haven't explained it properly to you.
I would go see the Assessor and get clarification.

Since: Sep 11

Dawsonville, GA

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#9
Dec 16, 2011
 

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to He ck. I have been researching this issue for quite some time and I personally have come to the conclusion that the term "assessed value" has the effect of making these exemptions look smaller than they really are. For example a $60,000 exemption off assessed value is really $150,000 off of fmv.

That is just my opinion. It seems to me that the use of the term "assessed value" is misleading to the general public. But then as you say, the Assessor, State and County all use that term. The Tax Digest uses that term.

I have stopped talking to the Tax Assessor and Commissioner since they frequently put out "misinformation", in my opinion.

The Lumpkin Tax Commissioner apparently doesn't know how to look at the Tax Digest and count the number of folks getting the local senior exemption. She also apparently "thinks" that land in Counservation Use is taxed at fmv and not conservation use.

Here is a website I launched a year ago to better educate Lumpkin tax payers on how the system really works. http://www.LumpkinTaxCut.com .
He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#10
Dec 16, 2011
 
Porter Springs wrote:
to He ck. I have been researching this issue for quite some time and I personally have come to the conclusion that the term "assessed value" has the effect of making these exemptions look smaller than they really are. For example a $60,000 exemption off assessed value is really $150,000 off of fmv.
That is just my opinion. It seems to me that the use of the term "assessed value" is misleading to the general public. But then as you say, the Assessor, State and County all use that term. The Tax Digest uses that term.
I have stopped talking to the Tax Assessor and Commissioner since they frequently put out "misinformation", in my opinion.
The Lumpkin Tax Commissioner apparently doesn't know how to look at the Tax Digest and count the number of folks getting the local senior exemption. She also apparently "thinks" that land in Counservation Use is taxed at fmv and not conservation use.
Here is a website I launched a year ago to better educate Lumpkin tax payers on how the system really works. http://www.LumpkinTaxCut.com .

A lot of useful information on your website. I can see where it would help anyone inquiring about property taxes.
Also I have found one does not get very much useful information from county officials. I don't know if this is because they are ignorant of their duties or because they just don't plain know.

the scary part is we elect them.
Oh my

Blairsville, GA

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Dec 16, 2011
 

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Reb Blairsville wrote:
<quoted text>
http://www.topix.com/forum/city/blairsville-g...
How does Lumpkin county make up for the loss of tax revenue?
- Higher taxes on other taxpayers.
- Reduce the level of services provided by the county.
- Different county, different school board, different infrastructure demands.

Since: Sep 11

Dawsonville, GA

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#12
Dec 16, 2011
 
to He ck and others. Here is draft article I have written on the State Conservation Use law implementation in Lumpkin County Georgia. Enjoy!
The Conservation Use Assessment is not really a property tax exemption in the legal sense. It is an alternative way of valuing agricultural land for tax purposes. However the Assessment operates very much like a tax exemption so "if it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck" we will call it an exemption with a small 'e'.
The Conservation Use Assessment is State law that was passed about 20 years ago. Its intended purpose was to aid farmers who were being forced off their land because the fair market value of their property was increasing being based its potential for development and not on farming.
Conservation Use is like a homestead property tax exemption in that it acts to reduce the amount of property taxes that the property owner would otherwise pay. Like a homestead exemption, Conservation Use does not lower overall tax collections but merely shifts the tax burden from one group of tax payers to another group. Unlike a homestead exemption, Conservation Use can apply to any qualifying land up to 2000 acres per property owner within the state. Conservation Use is also available to partnerships and corporations while homestead exemptions are not. The landowner can choose to live on the property in conservation while the homestead exemption must do so.
According to the 2011 Tax Digest for Lumpkin County that was filed with the state, there were 1947 parcels, and 54,143 acres of land in Conservation with a fair market value of $473,000,000. But the way that it works, Current Use Value replaces fair market value for tax purposes. In this case,$473,000,000 was replaced by $39,000 000. Current Use Value was only 12% of fair market value across the County. This reduction in the tax base led to a tax shift amount of $4,796,701 combined County and Schools. People who qualified for Conservation Use shifted almost $5 million in taxes onto those who did not qualify.
This is one of the secrets of Conservation Use. Current Use value replaces Fair Market Value for tax purposes. Any house on the property continues to be taxed at fair market value. But now the land value is based on a complex valuation formula that takes into consideration such factors as land fertility, forest/open pasture and location in the state. The Current Use factors are reevaluated and recalculated annually under State control.
The actual current use of the land on a parcel is also a secret. The value is not shown on the parcel record available at the Tax Assessor's website and it is not revealed on the tax bill. In fact looking at the tax bill all you see is the fair market value and assessed value of the parcel. The current use value of the land is nowhere to be seen on the tax bill. The current use value of a parcel does appear on the new Property Tax Assessment Notice but it is not labeled so who knows what it is. Why does the State Department of Revenue go to so much trouble to conceal the current use value for a parcel? I don't know, but I suspect that this requirement is written into the law somewhere. The Tax Assessor does know what the value is and you can call him up to get it.
(to be continued)

Since: Sep 11

Dawsonville, GA

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#13
Dec 16, 2011
 
(continued)

If you read the law you get the definite impression that only farmers can qualify for this property tax savings. The law states that to quailify for the exemption, the property owner must be engaged in "the good faith production of agricultural products".

But wait a minute. As it turns out, a tree is an agricultural product. And not just the trees growing on tree farms in South Georgia and elsewhere. That tree growing in your front yard turns out to be an agricultural product that qualifies your property for Current Use Assessment. As it turns out you too can be a "tree farmer".

So if you have 10 or more acres of agricultural land in the County and you are not conducting non-farm business on your land then you qualify automatically.(There are a few more "minor requirements". You must sign a 10 year Covenant agreeing to keep your land basically "as-is" for the duration. If you break the Covenant there are severe penalties but even here there are many loopholes.

Here is another secret. You can also qualify for this exemption with less than 10 acres as a "tree farmer". The easiest way to qualify with less than 10 acres is to cover your land with 50%+ in trees, get a "timber management plan" from a registered arborist and submit an application to the County Tax Assessor Board. The State law does not specify a minimum parcel size so that issue is left up to the discretion of the Board. You should be able to qualify with 5+ acres using this strategy or maybe even less. Call the Tax Assessor's Office for the details on this. If you do qualify there will be no requirement to actually execute the timber management plan.

And here is a final secret of Conservation Use. As a Senior living in the County you can combine the Senior Exemption with the Conservation Use exemption on the same parcel of land and enjoy the combined benefits of these two exemptions at the same time! Some people express surprise when they are told this but at least 273 Seniors are doing this at present according to a June 15, 2011 article in The Dahlonega Nugget. So by combining these two exemptions, it is possible for a Senior to live on a property valued at $350,000 or more fair market value and pay $0 in property taxes. Or you can have $800,000 in property at fair market value and pay less than $350. Or you can have over $2 million in property at fair market value and pay less than $700 in property taxes.
He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#14
Dec 16, 2011
 
The Conservation exemption can be had on 10 acres or more by word of the landowner. He can he's letting the land lay fallow, he's letting the trees grow, etc.
He cannot put the land into use, either commercially or for production. All the Assessor needs is a verbal expression of use.

Now if you have between 5 and less than 10 acres, you have to provide proof to the assessor that you qualify for the exemption.

You will see no current use of the property.
If you go to qpublic on the internet and look up the property, it will show FMV and the code for conservation use.

And you are right about the low taxes on that exemption. My neighbor has 19 acres with that exemption and his home is on the property. I have 1 acre with my home.
my 1 acre had a FMV of $35,000 last year. His FMV for 19 acres was a little over $200,000.
I paid taxes on a valuation of $35,000, he paid taxes on a current use valuation of a little over $8,000.

Those are not the numbers for taxes paid, they are the numbers the Tax office uses to bill you.

He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#15
Dec 16, 2011
 



Now I didn't know Seniors can combine exemptions. Are you sure about that?

He ck

Clarkesville, GA

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#16
Dec 16, 2011
 



And I'm probably wrong about putting the land to use as I see porter springs has more knowledge of this area than me.


Since: Sep 11

Dawsonville, GA

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#17
Dec 16, 2011
 
He ck wrote:
Now I didn't know Seniors can combine exemptions. Are you sure about that?
Absolutely. This is one of the secrets of Conservation Use. Conservation Use is not a homestead exemption. It is a different way of valuing land. The Georgia Department of Revenue calls it Conservation Use Valuation although the do list it as an exemption on the Tax Digest. I asked Ellen Mills of GDOR about this and she said that Conservation Use is not technically a tax exemption.

This year there were 273 Seniors in Lumpkin getting the benefits of Conservation Use and the Senior Exemption ON THE SAME PARCEL. Two Lumpkin Commissioners were collecting Conservation Use on one parcel and the Senior Exemption on another. One commissioner broke his single parcel into two parcels so he could put one parcel in conservation and another in senior since he was conducting a non-agricultural home-based business. Voila!

It is very easy in Lumpkin to get Conservation Use on a 5+ acre parcel of agricultural land using the "tree farmer" loophole in the law.
tks

Dahlonega, GA

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#18
May 15, 2012
 

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Oh my wrote:
<quoted text>
- Higher taxes on other taxpayers.demands.
tot he tune of over 200 a year higher tax on my home now , a neighbor pays about 150 a year on a home that is worth about 40,000.00 more then mine and I am paying 1800 a year

so if your over 65, and can afford a home in the 200k range, move to lumpkin and buy mine, you will pay less than 140 a year in property taxes
John

Demorest, GA

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#19
May 15, 2012
 
Porter Springs wrote:
<quoted text>
Absolutely. This is one of the secrets of Conservation Use. Conservation Use is not a homestead exemption. It is a different way of valuing land. The Georgia Department of Revenue calls it Conservation Use Valuation although the do list it as an exemption on the Tax Digest. I asked Ellen Mills of GDOR about this and she said that Conservation Use is not technically a tax exemption.
This year there were 273 Seniors in Lumpkin getting the benefits of Conservation Use and the Senior Exemption ON THE SAME PARCEL. Two Lumpkin Commissioners were collecting Conservation Use on one parcel and the Senior Exemption on another. One commissioner broke his single parcel into two parcels so he could put one parcel in conservation and another in senior since he was conducting a non-agricultural home-based business. Voila!
It is very easy in Lumpkin to get Conservation Use on a 5+ acre parcel of agricultural land using the "tree farmer" loophole in the law.
No problem in Union County if You are Lamars buddy .If you are not , forgrt about it .

Since: Dec 10

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May 15, 2012
 

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Porter Springs wrote:
<quoted text>
Absolutely. This is one of the secrets of Conservation Use. Conservation Use is not a homestead exemption. It is a different way of valuing land. The Georgia Department of Revenue calls it Conservation Use Valuation although the do list it as an exemption on the Tax Digest. I asked Ellen Mills of GDOR about this and she said that Conservation Use is not technically a tax exemption.
This year there were 273 Seniors in Lumpkin getting the benefits of Conservation Use and the Senior Exemption ON THE SAME PARCEL. Two Lumpkin Commissioners were collecting Conservation Use on one parcel and the Senior Exemption on another. One commissioner broke his single parcel into two parcels so he could put one parcel in conservation and another in senior since he was conducting a non-agricultural home-based business. Voila!
It is very easy in Lumpkin to get Conservation Use on a 5+ acre parcel of agricultural land using the "tree farmer" loophole in the law.
Lamar has all the tricks for reducing his taxes. To see how he does it go to www.cleanandopen.org

Start with his personal property. It's not to late to apply. Susie back dated his reduction in property taxes to the first of the year
I'm sure if you mention Lamars name she would give you the same tax advantage.

www.cleanandopen.org

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