sign2How is my property value determined?
What property exemptions are available?
How can I appeal my assessment?
How is the tax rate figured?

General Info

Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property tax, is a large source of revenue for governments in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property, which is established January 1st of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of the fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by various entities (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value or .001).

Several distinct entities are involved in the ad valorem tax process:

The County Tax Commissioner, an office established by the Constitution and elected in all counties except two, is the official responsible for receiving tax returns filed by taxpayers; receiving and processing applications for homestead exemptions; serving as agent of the State Revenue Commissioner for the registration of motor vehicles; and performing all functions related to billing, collecting, disbursing, and accounting for ad valorem taxes collected in the county. In Coffee County, the tax assessors have been lawfully delegated with receiving tax returns.

The County Board of Tax Assessors, appointed for fixed terms by the county commissioner(s) in all counties except one, is responsible for determining taxability, value and equalization of all assessments within the county. The County Board of Tax Assessors notifies taxpayers when changes are made to the value of the property; receive and review all appeals filed; and insures that the appeal process proceeds properly. In addition, they approve all exemptions claimed by the taxpayer.

The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the board of tax assessors (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the board of equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed).

The Board of County Commissioners (or the sole Commissioner in some counties), an elected body, establishes the budget for the county government operations each year, and levies the mill rate necessary to fund the portions of the budget to be paid for by ad valorem tax.

The County Board of Education, an elected body, establishes the annual budget for school purposes and then recommends their mill rate, which, with very few exceptions, must be levied for the school board by the county commissioner(s).

The State Revenue Commissioner exercises general oversight of the entire ad valorem tax process. In addition, the State levies ad valorem tax each year in an amount, which cannot exceed one-fourth of one mill (.00025).For additional information:


Taxpayers are required to file at least an initial tax return for taxable property (both real and personal property) owned on January 1 of the tax year. In Coffee County, the time for filing returns is January 1 through April 1. These returns are filed with the Tax Assessors office and forms are available in that office. The tax return is a listing of property owned by the taxpayer and the taxpayer's declaration of the value of the property.

Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally determined for the preceding year. The taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur. A new return, filed during the return period, may also be made by the taxpayer to declare a different value from the existing value where the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the current value placed on the property by the Board of Tax Assessors. This serves the purpose of establishing the taxpayer's appeal rights if the Board of Tax Assessors change the declared value again


How is my property value determined?
Property tax is an ad valorem tax based upon the value of property, both real and personal. Real property is defined as land and generally anything that is erected, growing, or affixed to the land. Personal property is boats, airplanes, business inventory, and any equipment, furniture, and fixtures needed to run a business.

Property taxes are charged against the owner of the property of January 1st, and against the property itself if the owner is not known. Property tax returns are to be filed between January 1st and April 1st with the county tax assessor's office.

Fair Market Value

The Assessors are charged with establishing the fair market value of the taxable real and personal properties in Coffee County. Fair market value means "the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept for the property at an arm's length, bona fide sale."

The Board of Assessors does not create property values. Assessors and appraisers merely interpret what is happening in the market place. The appraised value is simply the estimate of what the property is worth.
Appraisal Procedures

The Assessors use standard approaches in setting the value on all real and personal property. There are three approaches to value:

  • COST APPROACH: The cost approach uses actual replacement cost of the building, less general depreciation, plus the value of the land.
  • MARKET APPROACH: The market approach involves analyzing sales of similar properties to predict the likely selling price of unsold properties.
  • INCOME APPROACH: The income approach is used for income-producing properties. It involves capitalizing the net income to arrive at a probable selling price for the property.
Special Assessment Programs

There are special assessment programs available to taxpayers. These special programs include:

Preferential Agricultural Property Bona fide agricultural property can be assessed at 75 percent of the assessment of other property. This means that this type of property is assessed at 30 percent of fair market value rather than 40 percent. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in its current use for a period of ten years.

Conservation Use Property

Bona fide agricultural property can be assessed at its current use value rather than the fair market value. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in a current use for a period of ten years.

Environmentally Sensitive Property

Property can be assessed at its current use value rather than the fair market value when such property is maintained in its natural condition and meets the requirements set by the Department of Natural Resources. Property that qualifies for this special assessment must be maintained in a current use for a period of ten years


Standing timber is not taxed until sold or harvested, at which time it is taxed based upon 100 percent of its fair market value. There are three types of sales and harvests that are taxable:
lump sum sales where the timber is sold at a specific price regardless of volume
unit price sales where the timber is sold or harvested based on a specific price per volume
owner harvests where a land owner harvests his own timber and sells it by volume.

Equipment, Machinery, and Fixtures

Equipment, machinery, and fixtures are assessed at 40 percent of fair market value. The tax assessor may value the equipment, machinery, and fixtures of a going business to reflect the fair market value of the business as a whole. When no ready market exists for the sale of equipment, machinery, and fixtures, a fair market value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant, and useful information available. This information may include, but is not limited to, the original cost of the property, depreciation or obsolescence, and any increase in value by reason of inflation. Other determining factors include:

  • existing zoning of property
  • existing use of property
  • existing covenant or restrictions in deed dedicating the property to a particular use
  • any other important factors.
Tax assessors have access to any public records in order to discover such information.
What property exemptions are available?
Homestead, School, Disabled Veterans, and Preferential Agriculture:

Property tax is one of the primary sources of revenue for Coffee County. It is used to fund police and fire services, education, roads, bridges, water, parks, and other county services. The basis for property tax is the fair market value of the property, which is established on January 1 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessment value, which by law is established at 40 percent of fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the millage rate. (One mill of tax is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.)

You must file for a homestead exemption in person year round. Current year deadline is March 1. Once you have applied for an exemption, you do not need to reapply unless you move to another location.

Special Exemptions:

You may be eligible for conservation use or preferential agricultural assessment exemption if you are in good faith agricultural/forest production. This would include; producing plants, trees, fowl or animals, or the production of aquaculture, horticulture, floriculture, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry and apiarian products.

With both programs, you enter into a 10 year covenant with Coffee County whereby you agree to continue your property in agricultural or forestry production. Agricultural preferential assessment generally provides a 25 percent advantage over fair market value. Conservation use can offer significant savings, in some cases greater than 50 percent of fair market value.
How can I appeal my assessment?
After the assessors establish a new value on a piece of property, the tax payer is sent a assessment notice. The assessment informs you of the new proposed valuation of your property. You have 45 days to appeal the new valuation if you feel its incorrect. The appeal must be filed in writing. Late appeals are invalid.

Basis for appeal

After you have given careful consideration to the value placed on your property and if you feel its incorrect, your appeal should be based on one of the following areas of appeal:

  • TAXABILITY: Is the property taxable or does it qualify for exempt status?
  • UNIFORMITY: Does the property value compare with the value of similar properties?
  • VALUE: Is the property value too high or too low?
Appeals Process

When you file an appeal, the Board of Tax Assessors reviews it and determines whether a change in the valuation is warranted. If no change is made, it will then go to the next level of appeal, the Board of Equalization.

The Board of Equalization is a independent three-person board appointed by the Coffee County Grand Jury. Its specific function is to hear unresolved appeals from taxpayers.After hearing both the assessors and the taxpayer's position, the Board of Equalization renders a decision on the valuation.

If either side disagrees with the decision of the Board of Equalization, the taxpayer or the assessor may proceed to the next level of appeal, Coffee County Superior Court.
How is the tax rate figured?

The current millage rate, 22.560, was established in 2005. This means $22.56 per $1,000 of assessed value in Coffee County. This millage applies county wide. (The city has no millage rate.)

The millage rate for 2005 will be set around August 1. The tax rate, or millage, is set annually by the Coffee County Board of Commissioners and by the Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.


The assessed value--40 percent of the fair market value--of a house that is worth $100,000 is $40,000. In a county where the millage rate is 25 mills the property tax on that house would be $1,000; $25 for every $1,000 of assessed value or $25 multiplied by 40 is $1,000.