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Little-known Program Offers Tax Relief
People are always talking about property tax relief. But since 1992, a little-known program has already been offering tax breaks for many Georgians.

Property Tax Facts

"The state introduced a current-use taxation program for qualified properties, called 'Conservation Use Valuation,' in 1992," said Coleman Dangerfield, an Extension Service economist in the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forest Resources.

CUV was created, Dangerfield said, in response to concerns about urban sprawl, land use transition and resulting environmental impacts from these changes.

"It also provides tax relief for broad classes of qualified agricultural and forest landowners," he said. "Under CUV, a landowner signs a 10-year covenant with the county to receive current-use, as opposed to fair-market, valuation of the property for tax purposes."

Residential Transitional

Unique to the CUV program, he said, is "residential transitional" property. It gives relief to anyone whose home is in an area changing from single-family, owner-occupied homes to agricultural, commercial, industrial, office-institutional, multifamily or utility use, or a combination of those uses.

Eligible RT property is a single family's home and no more than 5 acres around it. The bottom line is that people who want to keep the property for a home should have it assessed on its use as a home and not on its development potential.

Evidence of Change

Evidence of a change in use, Dangerfield said, may be recent zoning changes, purchase by a developer, affidavits of intent, or being close to property that has changed from single-family residential use.

To qualify as RT property, the tax valuation must reflect a change in value that can be attributed to being in or close to a transitional area.

Application for CUV

Applications for current-use assessment, including RT property, must be filed with your county tax assessor by the deadline for filing county ad valorem tax returns, usually Jan. 1 to March 1.

If the property must be reassessed by the board of tax assessors, you can file for current-use assessment in conjunction with or in lieu of an appeal of the reassessment.

To learn more about the CUV or RV tax breaks, call the Georgia Department of Revenue Property Tax Division at (404) 656-4240.

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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