DeKalb voters will decide on tax break for homeowners

One question on November’s ballot is worded so unclearly that many DeKalb County voters might not know what it means.

The item is labeled on the ballot as the “DeKalb County Homestead Exemption Act 264,” and it’s asking voters whether to extend a property tax break for homeowners known as the frozen exemption.

The tax break, which has been in effect since 2007, is designed to protect homeowners from having to pay more in county taxes when their properties gain value.

The way it works is that homeowners get a discount on their tax bills to offset increases that occur because of rising property assessments. The county government portion of property taxes stays the same each year except when elected officials raise tax rates, or when a home’s base value changes after it’s sold or renovated.

The tax break doesn’t apply to property taxes for schools or city governments, though some municipalities offer a similar exemption.

More than 57,100 parcels are benefiting from the exemption, said DeKalb Chief Appraiser Calvin Hicks in August.

Voting yes on this ballot question would continue the tax break for five more years, through 2021, according to House Bill 596.

Voting no would allow the tax break to expire after this year.

The measure gives a tax benefit to homeowners but not to renters or businesses, which effectively pay higher property tax rates.

For a full listing of DeKalb County races, click here to view a sample ballot.

Wording of ballot question

DeKalb County Homestead Exemption Act 264, House Bill 596

“Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from DeKalb County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by extending the time limitation on such exemption?”

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