How to Apply for a Homestead Exemption*
Are you still overwhelmed by all of the real estate terminology you’ve discovered during the homebuying process? Well, it’s time to learn one more. In the midst of tax season, you may be hearing the words homestead exemption floating around. In short, it is a tax break that exempts a certain amount of the value of property on which property taxes are based.
If you purchased a home last year and it became your primary residence, you are able to apply for and qualify for a homestead exemption. By claiming the homestead exemption, you can see a considerable amount of savings each year on your property taxes.
If you are a member of the military who maintains a legal residence and votes in another state, you are not eligible to apply for the exemption in Georgia. Only apply if you intend to become a state resident and will file income and ad valorem taxes on the Georgia property.
Another benefit of the homestead exemption is protecting a primary residence from a forced sale in the event of a spouse’s death. This will keep creditors from coming after surviving family members during a season of grief and financial hardship.
When you are ready to complete your homestead exemption application, be sure to have these documents on hand:
- Valid driver’s license with property address
- Proof of motor vehicle registration
- Proof of age (driver’s license or birth certificate)
- Warranty deed
- Income statements (tax returns) from the previous year
You need to apply for the homestead exemption no later than April 1 to receive the tax benefit. Once you have applied and it has been granted, the exemption will automatically renew year to year as long as you continuously occupy the home as your primary residence.
This is a general overview of the standard homestead exemption, but there are also exemption rights for senior citizens, people with disabilities and disabled veterans. For more information on homestead exemptions, contact your local county office.