ATLANTA, GA – February 23, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — State Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) today announced the introduction of House Bill 291, legislation prohibiting nontax fees from appearing on property tax bills.
“Too often citizens across Georgia experience increased property tax bills, higher month mortgage payments, and in some cases even liens against their property, all resulting from the addition of nontax fees to their property tax bills,” said Rep. Harrell. “This legislation will help ease the burden on Georgia households and increase government transparency. By making certain that tax payers are billed fairly, we can also help ensure clarity in our local tax structures.”
Under HB 291, no property tax bill in Georgia could include any nontax related fees or assessments, including storm water service fees and waste removal fees. Also, collections and payments of these nontax related fees or assessments would have to be mailed separately from property bills.
This legislation addresses a growing concern among property owners across the state. As home prices remain low and Georgians carefully budget, property owners continue to face increasing property tax bills. This is often due to nontax fees. For example, though millage rates and property value assessments may not change, nontax fees for local expenses like street lights, speed bumps, storm water, and sanitation can add hundreds of dollars to a property tax bill. In fact, it is not uncommon for as much as 15-20 percent of a total property tax bill to originate from nontax fees.
Further, while property owners can legally deduct property taxes from their income taxes, they cannot deduct nontax fees that are included with their property tax bills. As a result, many Georgia property owners accidently file fraudulent income taxes each year. This is because they simply look at the total amount due on their property tax bill when making their property tax deductions on their income tax forms.
HB 291 would solve both of these problems, allowing property owners to clearly distinguish between taxes and fees. By paying each through separate bills, all confusion between the two can be easily clarified.
For more information on HB 291, please click here.
Representative Brett Harrell represents citizens of District 106, which includes portions of Gwinnett County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Transportation, Regulated Industries, and Information & Audits committees.