Metro-Atlanta Property Tax Exemptions:
Are You Eligible?
Want to reduce your property taxes? Some often-overlooked, age-based tax exemptions are available to certain metro-Atlanta individuals and married couples. Most of the county exemptions have an age requirement.
The applicant must be the age required by January 1 of the year applied. To receive the exemption for the year of application, the county tax commissioner/assessor’s office must receive the application by April 1.
Here’s one example: if you’re a Cobb County resident, 62 years old by Jan. 1, 2015, and apply for the exemption by April 1, 2015, you are eligible to receive a 100% exemption from all taxes related to the school general and school bond tax categories on your 2015 property tax bill. There are no income restrictions for this exemption if you’re a Cobb County resident; however, some metro-Atlanta counties have created income levels that applicants cannot exceed. On the other hand, Forsyth and Gwinnett Counties have the same exemption from all taxes related to the school general and school bond tax categories (with no income restrictions), but the age to qualify is 65 years old.
Due to the differences in what each county offers, we’ve compiled a County by County Exemptions chart that summarizes them. If you have questions after reviewing it, please refer to the contact information listed for each county.
Ross Hughes, CFP®
Tax Refund Fraud:
Ways to Protect Yourself
Tax refund fraud. Chances are you’ve heard about it with increasing frequency the past few years. Identity thieves use stolen personal information to file victims’ tax returns and receive refunds.
This is an important topic for all clients, but particularly for those in Georgia, Florida and Washington, D.C. These three areas have seen a high rate of tax fraud compared with the rest of the nation.
One way the IRS is helping decrease your risk is through an identity protection PIN (IP PIN) – a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to provide additional proof of identity when filing a federal tax return. Once it’s obtained, itmust be included on the federal tax return. Even if someone has your Social Security number, they can’t file a federal tax return without this IP PIN.
IP PIN caveats
Unfortunately, there isn’t an IP PIN for state returns. Additionally, only some taxpayers are eligible for an IP PIN:
- Someone who filed a federal tax return last year as a resident of Florida, Georgia or the District of Columbia
- A previous victim of identity theft who had an identity theft case that the IRS resolved
- A person who has received a notice from the IRS inviting that person to voluntarily ‘opt in’ to get an IP PIN
If you fit into one of these categories and would like to obtain an IP PIN, visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-An-Identity-Protection-PIN. Once you set up the initial IP PIN, the IRS will send you a new IP PIN each December via mail.
Other security measures
For those who aren’t eligible for an IP PIN, there are other ways to help safeguard from tax-refund fraud:
- File your tax return as soon as possible. Although there are many reasons you may need to wait, filing as soon as you’re able to do so can make a difference.
- If you use TurboTax, H&R Block or a similar online service, choose a password that’s different from others you use and one that isn’t easy to guess. Although a fraudster can open a separate account using personal information, “account takeover” through stolen passwords makes up 40% of fraudulent returns.
Other general identity theft prevention practices can help as well, such as keeping security on your computers up-to-date to detect password malware as well as protecting your Social Security number and other personal information by not providing it over the phone, mail or Internet unless you know who you’re dealing with on the other end.
Rachael Neil, CFP®
Client Relationship Manager
Oftentimes there’s more than one way to reach your destination. Our Client Relationship Manager, Rachael, can attest to this.
From a young age, she wanted to help others. She decided to go to college for nursing with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. During her last year of nursing school, she met a friend who was studying business and introduced her to another path that would allow her to make a difference in people’s lives: financial planning. Instead of becoming a nurse, Rachael decided to move to the San Francisco Bay area from her home state of North Dakota, go to school for finance and begin a career in wealth management.
Her career started at Wells Fargo Private Client Services in Palo Alto, CA as a Trust Associate assisting trust officers with the administration of trusts and estates. Before long, Rachael realized that although she enjoyed the estate planning aspect of financial planning, she wanted to work with clients on all aspects of financial planning and investment management. She became a Portfolio Administrator at Bingham, Osborn and Scarborough – a prestigious wealth management firm in San Francisco. She also graduated summa cum laude with her degree in finance from Golden Gate University and was awarded the Outstanding Graduate in Finance award. She obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation as well.
Less than two years later, Bingham, Osborn and Scarborough promoted Rachael to Portfolio Manager – a role that entailed providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management for 90 high net worth clients. She also was a member of the Investment Committee and responsible for updating the firm on estate planning and education planning strategies.
In 2007, Rachael gave birth to her son, Caden, and made the difficult decision to transition her clients to a trusted wealth management colleague at the firm so she could become a stay-at-home mom. Before long, Rachael began her own consulting practice to assist financial planning firms, especially start-ups.
In 2012, she and her family relocated to Atlanta to be closer to her husband’s family. She accepted an Associate Financial Planner position at Homrich Berg. They soon promoted her to Senior Associate where she was an integral part of opening a satellite office for the firm.
Today Rachael and her family live in Alpharetta. She enjoys her 15-minute commute to Redwood as well as the culture and expertise of the firm. When she’s not working, she enjoys cheering on her son at soccer and lacrosse, decorating her new home and savoring her husband’s gourmet cooking.