Clayton County Communications Administrator Valerie Fuller and Clayton County Tax Commissioner Danielle Smith discuss the one-time Property Tax Relief Grant. It is a budget proposal by Governor Brian Kemp to refund $950 million in property taxes back to homestead owners in the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 budget. This proposal became law when Governor Kemp signed HB 18 on March 13, 2023. The Property Tax Relief Grant may also be known as the Homestead Tax Relief Grant.
Clayton Connected Podcast: Benefits of the Property Tax Relief Grant w/ Tax Commissioner Danielle Smith (Transcript)
Valerie Fuller: You’re tuned in to the Clayton Connected Podcast in Clayton County where the world lands and opportunities take off. Hello and thank you for joining us today. I’m your hostess Valerie Fuller, Communications Administrator for Clayton County Board of Commissioners and the Clayton Connected Podcast. Joining me today is Ms. Danielle Smith. She is the Tax Commissioner for Clayton County. Welcome.
Danielle Smith: Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me today.
Valerie: Today we’re going to talk about the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant. So many questions, so many answers, but hopefully by the end of this podcast, you will have more information that will help you understand what the Home Owners Tax Relief Grant is, what the benefit is in it for you, and how to apply. So with that, Ms. Smith, let’s start. Let’s start. With a rise of concern from our citizens in Clayton County regarding their taxes and values, is there any light at the end of the tunnel? And if so, what? First of all, I guess we should say, what is the Home Owners Tax Relief Grant?
Danielle: So the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant, otherwise known as what we call the HTRG, that’s a grant that the Governor, Brian Kemp, has signed off on this year. There was $950 million in property taxes being returned back to homeowners. And so what that does allow is up to $18,000 off of your assessed value. So that’s going to make a major impact on quite a few folks’ assessed values, which then, you know, that turns over into their tax bill. So yeah, you’re going to look and see a nice credit on your tax bill this year.
Valerie: So how did that particular homeowners tax relief grant come about?
Danielle: Again, this was the state of Georgia, who identified they had additional funds, surplus funds in the budget. And so it’s only for this year as far as we know. I don’t know if this will apply next year, we’ll see. But it does apply this year because of those surplus funds, they’re being returned to taxpaying citizens.
Valerie: Absolutely wonderful. A nice little break for our residents not only in Clayton County, but throughout Georgia.
Danielle: Throughout the whole state of Georgia.
Valerie: So the question is, do citizens have to apply for this homeowner tax relief grant?
Danielle: No ma’am. As long as you have a homestead exemption on your property already, you’re automatically eligible for that homestead or the homeowner tax relief grant. But you have to have a homestead exemption on your property already.
Valerie: So also want to clarify this because a lot of people are getting this part confused. How does this apply to rental properties?
Danielle: So rental properties are not eligible because that’s an investment property. This is only for those who have homestead exemption. So I’ll clarify. A homestead exemption on your property is only for your primary residence. That’s the roof over your head. This is for those residents. This is their primary home and those that have the homestead exemption. That includes basic homestead exemption, your senior homestead exemptions, veterans exemptions, right? Any of those exemptions are part of the homestead exemptions. If you have a homestead exemption on your property, you’re automatically eligible for this credit on your property tax bill this year.
Valerie: Is this going to be a one-time payment for the homeowner tax relief grant?
Danielle: Right, and so it’s not a payment to the tax paying citizen. It’s a credit on their tax bill. So for example, suppose their bill is $1,000, right? But their credit turns out to be 300 or $400. They’re gonna see that 400 deducted from their property tax bill. So instead of $1,000, if the credit was $400, The bill itself will only be $600.
Valerie: Are all homeowners eligible for this Homeowners Tax Relief Grant?
Danielle: Yes, if they have a homestead exemption on their property, right? Because not all homeowners reside in the home. So it has to be your primary residence where you live in the state of Georgia.
Valerie: So we really want to stress that this is not dealing with rental properties.
Valerie: You have to be living in the property and you have to be the homeowner.
Valerie: Of that particular home.
Danielle: Yes. And you have to have a current homestead exemption on your property. Um, the one thing I do also want to advise, this credit will never result in a refund. So at which point the credit results in a zero bill due in terms of zero dollars due, then it’s zero dollars due. That’s it. It’ll never be that you still, so you have up to $18,000 in a reduction in your assessed value. At any point that credit results in a zero balance, there will not, we won’t continue to credit, right? Does that make sense?
Valerie: That does.
Danielle: So at any point your bill ends up zero, there is no refund, even though you’re allowed up to $18,000 of a value decrease, right? Zero dollars, that’s it. So once you get to zero, there is no refund. You’re allowed up to $18,000 in a value decrease. However that affects your bill, that’s what you’ll see decreased on your bill. If it ends up zero, it’s simply zero.
Valerie: So no paper checks, no direct deposits people.
Danielle: No ma’am.
Valerie: This is a one time. Credit.
Danielle: Credit, on your property tax bill. So the bill will be calculated as normal minus all of your exemptions and then the credit will be applied.
Valerie: So let’s clarify one other thing. Talk to us about the difference between property tax bills and tax assessment.
Danielle: OK. That is an ongoing question.
Danielle: Many times people confuse the Tax Assessor’s Department and the Tax Commissioner’s Office. The Tax Assessor is the Tax Assessor. He appraises the property. He places, or she, whomever that person is, the Tax Assessor is responsible to place value on the properties throughout the county. That’s all properties, not just the homes, commercial properties, et cetera, but the Tax Assessors focuses on the values of the property. The tax bill is generated based on those values and some other things, right, including the mill rate or whatever, but the tax value is what then converts over into your tax bill. And so at any point every year you receive a tax assessment notice from the Tax Assessor’s Office. Needless to say, my office receives tons of phone calls because they think it comes from my office, right? Anything tax related.
Valerie: Every year.
Danielle: Every year. And so that tax assessment notice that you receive is just to tell you how the county has valued your property. If you disagree with that value, you do have a right to appeal within a certain window. That window has now passed, but every year around April, they send those out. And early June is usually the deadline to file your appeal with the Tax Assessor’s Office. And then that goes through its own process, right, to approve or deny that appeal. The fall, September 15th, on or around, we send those bills out, and they’re always due on or around November 15th. So the property tax bill cycle is later in the year. The assessment cycle is early spring. OK?
Valerie: Big difference between the two. So I’m so glad that you clarified that. So where can people find more information about the homeowner tax relief grant?
Danielle: So you can go to our website at claytoncountyga.gov. And if you just look under government, you’ll see the Tax Commissioner’s page. When you go to our page, you’ll see the information for the HTRG, in addition to tons of other information, tax sale information, or we now have a monthly webinar, “Your Time with the Tax Commissioner.” And you can register for that every third Thursday of the month. We host “Your Time with the Tax Commissioner,” where residents can log on, they can ask questions that they might have, or receive important information from us pertaining things that are to come.
Valerie: Ladies and gentlemen, Tax Commissioner Danielle Smith, thank you so much for joining us.
Danielle: Thank you.
Valerie: We look forward to having you back again. Thank you so much for taking the time out to come on the Clayton Connected Podcast and to answer questions. We look forward to you having a great success as Tax Commissioner, and we’ll invite you back again as a special guest. Thank you so much.
Valerie: I’m your hostess Valerie Fuller. Thank you for listening to the Clayton Connected Podcast in Clayton County, Georgia, where the world lands and opportunities take off.