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In Georgia, the Taxman Works for You

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Information to Make Paying Your Taxes Less Painful in 2014

Richard Steele, Gwinnett County Tax CommissionerWhen George Harrison and the Beatles sang, “I”m the Taxman/And you”re working for no-one but me,” they were, thankfully, singing in another time and in another place. And while sometimes those lyrics seem to be spot on, the county Tax Commissioners in Georgia work for you, creating an advocate in a place you”d probably least expect it – the tax world. It”s a world that”s far more complicated and confusing than it should be, but with a little information, and knowing what to watch for, it can be a lot less painful. 2014 is coming, so now is the time to make sure you are taking advantage of everything that can reduce how much you have to pay.

Homestead Exemptions – Do you have one? Email or call and ask if you don”t know, and then be sure to apply by April 1 if you need to. This will reduce the taxable value of your property. Seniors and the disabled in Gwinnett County can qualify for special exemptions, but regardless of the type of exemption, you have to apply – nothing happens automatically, so don”t let these pass you by. You can apply online, or request an application.

Property Tax Returns – The Gwinnett Board of Assessors, a separate county entity, receives these each year between January 1 and April 1. You can use this to report the value of your property, especially if you feel something has changed, and this can impact the bottom line of your tax bill. If you own a business, you have to file one each year to avoid penalties.

Assessment Notices – Again, the Board of Assessors will mail these, but you need to watch out for them. Each property owner in Gwinnett will get one in the spring, and if you don”t like the taxable value it states, you need file an appeal within 45 days of the notice. This, too, can affect how much tax you have to pay.

Your 2014 Gwinnett County property tax bill will arrive in August and be due in October. You”ll be able to pay online, by mail, or at any tag office. But watch the due date – that”s another way you”ll save. You should always receive a tax bill, even if you have a mortgage company paying for you. If you bought a car after March 1, 2013, you paid the new Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT). This tax replaces both sales and ad valorem taxes on vehicles, and in 2014 will be 6.75 percent of the car”s value. You pay it only when you buy a vehicle, and then you never pay the annual ad valorem tax again. If you bought a car between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013, you can opt-in to the new TAVT system and get rid of that annual tax. You only have until February 28, 2014 to do it though, and that”s coming up soon. Everyone else will remain on the old system as long as they own their cars. Regardless of whether you are on TAVT or the annual tax, you still have to renew your tag every year.

The Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner”s website is loaded with more information that”s meant to help you. Check it out sometime soon, and be sure to ask any questions you have. Remember – the Taxman works for you, so take advantage of that tax-world advocate.