Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Georgia Homestead Exemption 2012

Published on by: Ian M. Falcone
In May 2012, Governor Deal signed legislation that increased the homestead exemption from $10,000 to $21,500 per person ($43,000 per married couple). While this is a welcome change, unfortunately the new legislation did not amend the amount of the wildcard exemption (which remains at a maximum of $5600).
Previously, debtors with more than $10,000 of equity in their homes ($20,000 per married couple) were often forced to file a Chapter 13 case simply to save their residence. The new law will allow Chapter 7 debtors an opportunity to protect more equity in their homes, and will improve the chances for meeting the (Means Test) qualifications for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
While this change will probably not have any major impact during the current economic recession, it will likely have a substantial impact as home prices recover down the road.

About Homestead Exemptions in Georgia

Generally, a homeowner is entitled to a homestead exemption on their home and land underneath provided the home was owned by the homeowner and was their legal residence as of January 1 of the taxable year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)
Application for Homestead Exemption
To be granted a homestead exemption, a person must actually occupy the home, and the home is considered their legal residence for all purposes. Persons that are away from their home because of health reasons will not be denied homestead exemption. A family member or friend can notify the tax receiver or tax commissioner and the homestead exemption will be granted. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)
Application for homestead exemption must be filed with the tax commissioner's office, or in some counties the tax assessor's office has been delegated to receive applications for homestead exemption.
A homeowner can file an application for homestead exemption for their home and land any time during the calendar year. To receive the homestead exemption for the current tax year, the homeowner must have owned the property on January 1 and filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in the county. Property tax returns are required to be filed by April 1. Homestead applications that are filed after this date will not be granted until the next calendar year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)
Failure to apply by the deadline will result in loss of the exemption for that year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45) Click this link for more information on when homestead applications should be filed in the county.

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