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Seniors missing school tax break
Many say they thought exemption would be automatic
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Tax exemption

  • At 62, some are eligible for a partial school tax exemption based on income. File between Jan. 1 and March 1 with proof of income.
  • At 65, some are eligible for an additional tax break known as the double homestead exemption. This also has an income requirement. The majority of those who qualified for the exemption at 62 also qualify for this. File between Jan. 1 and March 1 with proof of income.
  • At 70, all are exempt from paying school taxes. All that is needed to apply is proof of age. File between Jan. 1 and May 1.
  • For more information, call the Hall County Tax Assessors Office at 770-531-6720.

Source: Hall County Chief Appraiser Mike Henderson

A misunderstanding has left some Hall County seniors upset to learn they can no longer apply for a tax exemption.

The May deadline to register with the Hall County Tax Assessors Office passed before many realized that the exemption was not automatic for those 70 and older.

In November, 92 percent of voters approved an amendment that would allow those 70 and older to get full school tax exemptions in Hall County. Previously, the minimum age was 72.

Those who were 70 by Jan. 1 had until May 1 to send their birth dates to the Tax Assessors Office.

Hoschton resident Neil Dapolito, who turned 70 in 2008, is upset that he will have to pay school taxes this year. School taxes account for about two-thirds of the total property tax bill.

He was led to believe he would automatically be eligible for the exemption because he had applied for a Homestead Exemption.

"It’s very, very unfair," Dapolito said. "By the time I find out, they’re telling me it’s too late to file."

Dapolito said the exemption would have saved him around $2,500 in taxes.

"It’s not the end of the world but it’s a lot of money," Dapolito said. "The notification was bad."

Dapolito said he thinks state legislators should allow the deadline to be extended this year because so many who are eligible did not know they needed to apply.

Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, said there is no way to extend the deadline without going through the legislative process and putting it on the ballot again.

Mills said there isn’t a problem with the legislation but understands how the requirements for the different tax exemptions could get mixed up.

"A lot of people don’t understand when the deadlines are. It is very confusing because there are some earned income limits on some of the qualifications and at age 70 there are no earned income limits," Mills said.

Mills said if people are in doubt, they should go to the Tax Assessors Office with their tax return and proof of age.

"I would recommend that you never rely on government to do what you yourself should be responsible for. If you want to ensure you get the senior adult property tax exemption, then go to the Tax Assessors Office and make sure they have your necessary information," Mills said.

Bobby Hulsey, chairman of the Hall County Board of Tax Assessors, said he is not happy to hear calls from people who have missed the registration deadline.

"Even though it was on the ballot I don’t think there’s that many people that know about it," Hulsey said. "It amounts to a lot of money, and it is a shame that people missed out because of this deadline."

Hulsey said unfortunately, state law prevents tax assessors from extending deadlines.

"That’s always our No. 1 complaint, that people don’t know there were deadlines," Hulsey said.

Hulsey said his office is working to put taxpayers’ ages into the computer system. Staff members are currently going through records and pulling the birth dates of all those who applied for partial exemptions to put them into the computer system.

They hope to do so before tax bills go out this year.

"Probably by mid-September we will have it all worked out," Hulsey said. "We still need people to contact us and give us their birth dates. ... If they’re due an exemption we want them to have it."

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