Rockdale’s Constitutional Corner
By Tisa Smart Washington
Rockdale Tax Commissioner
Rockdale County property owners should start seeing tax bills arrive in their mailboxes soon, if they have not already. Some owners may give it a cursory look while others go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Whichever group you fall in, it is important to understand what’s included on the bill and how we determine the amount of tax due.
Bills are mailed to the owner of record as of Jan. 1. If your property taxes are paid by your mortgage company, the bank will contact us, in most cases, to obtain your tax information. However, you may provide a copy of the bill to your mortgage company just in case. If the property was sold after January 1, the bill will be sent to the previous owner. If you no longer own the property, you may forward the bill to the new owner. If you are the new owner, the bill may still be in the name of the previous owner. However, the taxes attach to the property and are still due by the deadline.
The top portion of the bill contains the figures used and the calculations that make up the final amount due. In general, tax bills are calculated by multiplying 40 percent of the value of the property by the millage rate. In the spring, our Tax Assessor’s Office mailed notices to property owners with their values for 2017. And in the summer, the Board of Commissioners and the School Board set their millage rates. Now, my office calculates the tax bills using those two values.
You will see a grid that separates the taxes due by the entities that receive them. There is a separate line for taxes paid to the State, County and School System. You may also see a street light fee in the grid, if applicable. Included are the fair market value of your property, the value that we tax on (the 40 percent or net assessment), any exemption you may have in place, the taxable value (the 40 percent minus your exemption), the millage rate and the gross tax. If you have an exemption in place, there will also be a HOST – Homestead Option Sales Tax – credit on your bill, which reduces the amount of taxes you pay to the county by 70 percent. These figures determine your final amount due. Taxes due on a $100,000 home without exemptions will be $1,820, while taxes on a $100,000 home with a standard exemption will be $784. Other exemptions may further reduce your tax obligation.
The bottom portion of the tax bill, as well as the back, contains valuable information, and a payment coupon. Please take time to read over these sections. Payments can be made online by credit or debit card; in our lobby by cash, check, or credit or debit card; or by mailing a check to our office or using the drop box in our lobby. Payments made by mail should be postmarked by the due date to avoid a late penalty.
If you have any questions about your tax bill, please contact our office. We’d be happy to help you.
Throughout each month, the clerk of courts, tax commissioner, sheriff and probate judge—Rockdale’s elected constitutional officers—discuss topics relevant to their respective roles.