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Senator hopes to freeze property taxes

Eric Johnson's proposal aims at homes

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POSTED: January 5, 2008 5:02 a.m.
With the start of the Georgia General Assembly’s 2008 session less than a month away, state Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) recently pre-filed legislation to create a Constitutional amendment to freeze existing residential property taxes.
According to the senator, Georgia homeowners have not been protected from “backdoor” tax increases and homeowners’ ability to afford these tax jumps have not been a factor in the adjustments.
“This amendment,” Johnson said, “would protect homeowners with a sliding homestead exemption that would, in essence, freeze their property taxes until the home is sold.”
The senator’s proposal would lock-in the amount of property tax a homeowner pays at the time the owner acquires the property.
Any increase thereafter would be subject to limitations and an increase in the amount of the homestead exemption would accompany the tax increase in most cases.
Several counties in the state already this type of exemption in place, including Johnson’s home of Chatham County, where many residents have been satisfied with the exemption.
If approved by two-thirds of the state House and Senate, the measure would appear on the November 2008 ballot for Georgia voters to affirm or reject the Constitutional amendment.
Acknowledging tax reform as a key issue for the upcoming assembly session, Johnson said his legislation is not a new concept, but a continuance of his efforts “to ease the residential property tax burden for homeowners.”
“I introduced a similar bill in the Senate in 2003, where it passed overwhelmingly,” he said. “As we debate tax reform, I believe the time is right to bring this initiative forward again, because local governments should not be allowed to tax people out of their homes.”
 

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