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Who isn't paying Hall taxes due to exemptions? Quite a few
County, Gainesville have more than $2.5 billion in property off the tax rolls
Taxes

Hall County is raising its property taxes in 2018, and here’s a look at who doesn’t have to pay them.

Tens of thousands of Hall County residents — including seniors, disabled residents and disabled veterans — are eligible for tax breaks, as are manufacturers and conservation land. It adds up to almost $2 billion in property value exempt from taxation every year, including tax breaks for individuals.

Including tax breaks inside the city of Gainesville, the exempt property value is more than $2.5 billion this year. As a result, there’s $32.1 million in tax revenue taken off the table, according to the Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office.

Here’s how that foregone revenue breaks down for each government:

• Hall County School System: $21.7 million.

• Gainesville City Schools: $5.25 million.

• Hall County: $4.2 million.

• City of Gainesville: $975,988.

County property owners are eligible for tax exemptions if they’re past a certain age and below a certain income level, if they’re disabled or if they’re disabled veterans. For the most part, these tax breaks apply in all of the county municipalities and taxing districts.

Here’s the amount of property value in the county and Gainesville that isn’t being taxed:

• Hall County School System: $1.17 billion

• Gainesville City Schools: $765.7 million.

• Hall County: $627.4 million.

 City of Gainesville: $325 million.

Most households in the county receive the homestead exemption, a small tax break that knocks only about $55 from a property tax bill.

At age 62, Hall residents with limited incomes are eligible for a partial school tax exemption that knocks off a portion of their bill, the largest tax levied in the area. That exemption grows at age 65.

There are 4,600 households receiving this partial exemption.

And at 70, residents are eligible for a full school tax exemption regardless of income. There are 9,071 households that will take advantage of the full school tax exemption in the county and in Gainesville this tax year.

This is the most sought-after tax break offered by the county, as school taxes make up more than 60 percent of your bill.

Yet some of those households shouldn’t be getting those breaks. County assessors and the Hall County Tax Commissioner’s Office have spent the past two years working to purge them from the records.

The tax rolls include people who have moved out the area but have not been removed from the system and people who are inappropriately claiming tax breaks in multiple counties. Others have died.

In a few cases each year, a resident of the county dies without their relatives publishing an obituary or making any changes to the deed of their home — a couple of the ways Hall County tax assessors know to purge them from the exemption rolls.

It’s an uncommon situation for county tax assessors, said Chief Appraiser Steve Watson, “but it does happen,” and sometimes a death can go unnoticed at the county for several years.

Much more common is the double-exemption, where people with homes in more than one county claim exemptions in multiple counties.

In the 2016 tax year, 726 properties lost their tax exemption. Most of those were simple transfers of ownership, according to Watson, but a significant number of those households also had a tax exemption somewhere else — causing them to lose their Hall County exemption. In 2017, 413 properties lost their exemption.

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