The information in this web site is intended to aid you in understanding your rights and responsibilities relating to property tax in Sumter County. A small web page cannot cover the many and complex tax laws in Georgia. If you have questions or need clarification, please call the office at (229) 928-4530. My staff and I are here to help you.
The purpose of this site is to answer questions and provide general information to the public on taxation in Sumter County, Georgia. This site does not necessarily cover every aspect of property taxation and should not be relied upon as a legal source of information. Please refer to the specified code sections for specific limitations. The Department of Revenue sponsors a web site where the non annotated version of the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A) can be viewed. CLICK HERE to view the online O.C.G.A.
The Sumter County Tax Commissioner's Office should be contacted for more information on inquiries about billing and collection of property taxes, and the Sumter County Board of Tax Assessor's Office should be contacted for more information on property values. The phone number for the Tax Assessor is 229-928-4514.
This section of FAQ includes questions concerning Property taxation and Motor Vehicle taxation.
What is property taxation?
Property tax is an ad valorem tax, which means according to value. Ad valorem tax, the tax collected by the tax commissioner, is based on the value of the taxable property in the county.
The fair market value is established each year by the Tax Assessors. The value is based on what is on the property as of January 1 each year and ownership is established by who owns it on January 1 each year.
What property is taxed?
All real estate and personal property are taxable unless law has exempted the property (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-3). Real property is land and generally anything that is erected, growing or affixed to the land; personal property is everything that can be owned that is not real estate. Personal property typically consists of inventory and fixtures used in conducting business, boats, aircraft, farm machinery, motor vehicles and mobile homes. Your household property is not normally taxable.
Who decides how much my property is worth for tax purposes?
The Board of Assessors and their staff have the sole responsibility and authority of determining the value of property in Sumter County. Each year between January 1 and April 1 every property owner has the ability to declare a proposed value for their property. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-9). These values are declared in the manner of 'filing a return'. Returns for real estate and personal property are filed in the Tax Assessor's office. The Board of Assessors will review your proposed value compared to their value. An assessment notice with the Board’s determined value will be mailed to you.
What if I disagree with the Tax Assessors' value?
Taxpayers may challenge an assessment by Sumter County Board of Tax Assessors by appealing to Sumter County Board of Equalization or to an arbitrator(s) within 45 days from the date of the assessment notice. Once the county board of equalization or the arbitrator(s) has rendered a decision, the taxpayer may continue their appeal to the superior court by mailing or filing with Sumter County Board of Tax Assessors a written notice wishing to continue the appeal. Refer to the General Information section under “Assessment Appeals” for detailed information.
Does the Tax Commissioner report to the Board of Commissioners or control the Board of Tax Assessors?
The Tax Commissioner is a constitutional officer (elected official) separate and independent from both the Board of Tax Assessors and the Board of Commissioners. Although county commissioners and constitutional officers have differing powers and responsibilities, they serve the same constituencies and should have equal interest in providing a well-managed and financially sound county government. Cooperation and assistance between the board of commissioners, constitutional officers, and the board of tax assessors increase the prospect that the system can and will work. Good working relationships is the key to successful county government.
What is the difference between fair market value and assessed value?
Assessed value is defined as being 40% of the fair market value. Property in Georgia is taxed on the assessed value.
When is my tax bill due?
Taxes for real estate and personal property are normally due in Sumter County on or before December 1 of each year. Mobile/modular homes are due April of each year and motor vehicles are due based on the owners' birthday.
After the due date, interest and penalty may be charged at a rate set by state statute. However, homesteaded property with a tax liability of less than $500 does not receive the penalties.
If the property taxes remain unpaid, the tax commissioner has the right and responsibility to levy on the property for non-payment.
What is a millage rate?
The tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually by the Sumter County Commissioners and the Sumter County Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. Each governing authority estimates their total revenue from other sources. This figure is subtracted from their overall budgetary needs, and then a millage rate is set that will generate the necessary revenues to fulfill budgetary requirements.
How is my tax bill calculated?
Once the property owner and the Board of Assessors have come to terms with an appropriate value, this value is provided to the Tax Commissioner for tax bill calculation. To calculate a tax bill, you must first deduct any exemptions that many apply from the assessed value; thus generating a net assessed (taxable) value. Next you multiply the net assessed value by the millage rate.
Is there anyway to reduce my tax bill?
Yes. There are several exemptions and special assessment programs available that may apply to your property. The most common are the homestead exemption for real estate and for business personal property there is the freeport exemption. Contact the Sumter County Tax Assessor’s Office for details of the available exemptions.
What is and how do I file for homestead exemption?
Homestead exemption is the system developed by the State of Georgia that exempts from taxation a specified amount of assessed value of your home. To apply for homestead exemption bring a copy of your warranty deed to the Tax Assessor’s office between January 2 and April 1. To qualify you must both own and occupy your home as of January 1. Once you have qualified for homestead exemption and remain in the same house you do not need to reapply. However, if you move, you are required to reapply for the exemption for the new location. Beginning June 1, 2005 application for homestead exemption may be submitted any time during the year but must be received before April 1 of the taxable year to qualify for the exemption that year. If received after April 1, the Tax Assessor will activate the exemption the following year.
Where do I get a copy of my warranty deed?
You can obtain a copy of your warranty deed from the Clerk of Superior Court. This office is located in the Courthouse at 500 W. Lamar St. Suite 23 Americus, GA.
Do I pay taxes on my mobile/modular home?
Mobile/modular homes are considered personal property and are taxable in the State of Georgia. Tax must be paid annually with a due date of April 1. The owner of any mobile/modular home located in Sumter County must file a return and obtain a location permit. In order to obtain this permit the mobile home tax for the current year must be paid in full.
Do you send my Tax Statement to my Mortgage Company?
Georgia Code requires that we mail Property Tax Bills to the owner of record as of January 1 each year. We do not send Tax Bills to a mortgage company. Mortgage companies normally request the tax bills for their customers. It is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that all taxes are timely paid.
What if my property was sold during the year?
Tax bills are based on value and ownership as of January 1st each year. Even though a property may be sold during the year, the original bill is mailed to the owner of record as of January 1st. When the new deed is recorded, the Tax Assessor’s Office picks up that information for the deed transfer. The new owner will receive the following year Assessment Notice and Property Tax Bill at the address provided on the deed. If you need a duplicate bill, call the Tax Commissioner’s Office. If you have questions as to who owes the taxes, refer to your closing documents or consult with your closing attorney.
Who do I contact for questions about my Tax Bill?
The Sumter County Tax Commissioner’s Office should be contacted for more information on inquiries about billing and collection of property taxes, payments, and delinquent taxes. The Tax Commissioner’s Office is located in the Sumter County Courthouse, Suite 120. The telephone number is (229) 928-4530.
The Sumter County Board of Tax Assessor’s Office should be contacted for more information on property values, ownership, exemptions, and appeals. The Tax Assessor’s Office is located in the Sumter County Courthouse, Suite 130. The telephone number is (229) 928-4514.
When are interest and penalties added to my delinquent bill?
Interest will be added to delinquent tax bills as required by state law. Interest is charged the day after the due date and on the first day of every month thereafter, until the tax bill is paid in full.
Prior to July 1, 2016, the annual interest rate was 12% per year. (Effective 7/1/2016) The annual interest rate will be the January prime rate at the beginning of the year plus 3%. The interest rate for 2019 was 8.50%. The interest rate for 2020 was 7.75%. The current interest rate for 2021 is 6.25%.
Penalties may also be added to delinquent tax bills as required by state law. (Effective 7/1/2016) If a property tax bill remains unpaid for 120 days after the due date, a penalty of 5% is added. An additional 5% is added for each 120-day period that the bill remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 20%. The penalty is applied to the actual “tax/fee” balance. Homesteaded property with a tax liability of less than $500 does not receive the penalties. These penalties apply to taxes billed for real estate, personal property, timber and heavy duty equipment.
Mobile home penalties of 10% are added the day after the April 1 due date.
If the property taxes remain unpaid, the Tax Commissioner has the responsibility to levy on the property for non-payment.
Where do property tax dollars go?
To support administration of county government and the public school system;
To build and repair public buildings and bridges;
To pay expenses of courts, county jail and law enforcement;
To build and maintain county roads;
To provide for fire protection;
To provide for public health and sanitation;
*Please note that this is an abbreviated list. Please see (§ O.C.G.A. 48-5-220) for a complete list.