General Tax Information
The Georgia property tax system is a complex multi-level structure that sometimes creates a great deal of confusion for the the public, the media and even elected officials. The property tax process involves two different functions -- estimating property values and setting a millage rate that provides the tax funds to meet budgets.
Property taxes play an important role in contributing to the quality of life and they are levied to make up the difference between all other revenues received and the total revenues needed to fund essential services for Peach County, the Cities of Fort Valley and Byron and the Peach County Board of Education. Those three governmental organizations provide roads, fire and police protection, library services, parks and recreation, sanitation, lighting, emergency management, planning and zoning, economic development, schools and education, public health, entertainment and other vital services from which all of us benefit directly and indirectly.
There are several key participants in the property tax process within county government. They are the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Tax Assessors, the Tax Commissioner and the Board of Equalization. Each group plays a vital role in the overall property tax process.
The County Commissioners are responsible for providing the funds, or budget, that actually pays for the services previously mentioned. They are also required by state law to appoint the Board of Tax Assessors -- an independent body responsible for estimating property values. State law also requires the commissioners to provide county funds to finance and administer the property tax process. This includes the operation of the Board of Assessors and all appraisal functions, appeal activities and tax collection.
The County Commissioners, however, do not have any role in the appraisal or assessment of property other than making appointments and funding the process. And, while the county commissioners appoint the members of the Board of Assessors -- state law provides that the Board of Assessors operates independently.
Another participant in the property tax process is the Tax Commissioner, an elected county constitutional officer, who compiles the county tax digest for state review and approval. Tax Commissioners send tax bills and collect taxes for counties, for schools and for the cities that levy property taxes. The Tax Commissioner, however, has no role in property appraisal and no role in setting the county budget or millage rate.
Property taxes are based on two kinds of tangible property: real property and personal property. Taxable real property consists of real estate such as homes, businesses, land, farms and industries. Taxable personal property consists of boats, motors, airplanes, business-owned inventory, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment.
The amount of taxes owed on these properties is determined by their value. Ad valorem is a Latin term that means “according to value.”