Editor’s Note: Thanks to Stacy Reynolds of Atlanta Legal Aid for providing the following important information for our audience.
April 1 was the original deadline to file homestead exemption applications for your 2020 property taxes. Normally, you would have to file all required verifying documents by that deadline, as well. But 2020 is far from a normal year.
Following Georgia Department of Revenue guidance, the Fulton County Assessors’ office is allowing additional time to provide the necessary supporting documentation. The actual deadline has not yet been determined, but the department based this extension on the fact that the personal income tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15.
The Assessors’ office says it wants to be proactive by allowing people leeway and giving them time until government offices open up again to submit things like car registrations and proof of income. This means there is still time to get your documents in. If you have not yet filed your 2019 taxes, you can use 2018 income tax returns to prove income, but before doing so you should consider whether your 2019 income would qualify you for an even better exemption.
How Will I Know?
The Fulton Assessors’ office is reviewing applications and reaching out to request additional documents so stay alert. If you applied in person or by mail with a paper application, they will send you requests by mail.
If you applied online using their Smartfile system, they will send an email to the address used to open the account. We recommend that you check your email and log into the Smartfile system regularly to check for any messages.
You may have received a postcard from the Board of Assessors recently about setting up an account for electronic notices, but that will not affect these notices as the Smartfile account is separate.
What Should I Do?
If you receive a message asking for documents, it will instruct you on how to submit the documents. Smartfile messages provide a link to go back to your application where you can search through the attachments page and upload the requested documents.
If you get a letter asking for documents, it will instruct you to mail in the documents. You also have the option of mailing in copies of the requested documents if you filed online and you can do so before getting a notice if you have the documents. To mail documents (copies only; don’t mail original documents!), send them to:
Fulton County Board of Assessors
235 Peachtree St, NE, Suite 1100
Atlanta, GA 30303
Be sure that any documents you submit can be linked to your application. You should include your homestead exemption application number if you have that (it is located on the notice if you have received one or you can find it in your Smartfile account). It is also a good idea to include your address and parcel identification number, if you have those. The parcel identification number can be found on your property tax bill or notice of assessment or by doing a property search on the fultonassessor.org website. These are ways to make it easier for the Assessors’ office to link the documents to the right application.
Click here for a short video that will review the document submission instructions outlined in this blog.
What Documents Might Be Needed?
Required documents include:
- Car registration (must be registered at the home)
- Proof of income for senior and other special exemptions
- Proof of claim of ownership if deed does not appear in the applicant’s name in property tax records (for people inheriting their home, this may take a few documents to connect the applicant back to the name that appears in the records).
If there are questions about your application or any documents are missing, they will ask for more information. You should supply the requested information or let them know why you need more time.
You Have the Right to Appeal Homestead Exemption Denials
Always remember that you can appeal the denial of the homestead exemption. Be sure to check your Notice of Assessment. If the exemption you believe you are entitled to is not listed on the notice, you should appeal it even if they say it is still being processed. If the exemption is ultimately approved, you can drop your appeal. But if you fail to appeal within 45 days of the Notice of Assessment being issued, you run the risk of losing your right to appeal.
What If I Run Into Problems or Have Questions?
If you run into problems or have questions, Atlanta Legal Aid may be able to help. If you are 60 or over, call the Senior Legal Hotline at 404-657-9915. Fulton County residents under 60 years of age can call 404-524-5811 (eligibility restrictions apply). You can also apply for help online at: atlantalegalaid.org/apply. You can also find more information on the Fulton Board of Assessors’ website fultonassessor.org or call them at 404-612-6440 ext. 4. For any other questions, or to help directing you to the right place, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.