A customer enters the Cobb County Government Service Center in Austell. Senior citizens in Cobb reaped nearly $80 million in tax breaks last year due to an exemption in school taxes for property owners 62 and older. File photo.

Fair or foul? Cobb tax assessor cuts his own taxes

The exemption in Cobb County that allows property owners age 62 and up to pay no school taxes on their homes cost the county schools nearly $80 million last year with more than 47,000 property owners claiming it.

Among those taking the senior citizen exemption was Cobb County Property Tax Assessor Stephen White. White, who is in his mid-40s, got the exemption when he added his father to the deed for his Acworth home.

White defended the exemption, which cut his property tax bill by two thirds, because his father lives with him.

“I’m not doing something illegal,” he said.

Not in Georgia. Other states with property tax breaks for senior citizens require all non-married property owners to be senior citizens to qualify and then only after a waiting period designed to make sure ownership isn’t being switched just to get the tax relief.

Lance Lamberton, the chairman of the low-tax citizen group Cobb County Taxpayer Association, said the county should investigate whether to tighten the rules for qualifying for the exemption to protect its integrity.

“I think that’s something we need to look at. I’d be embarrassed if I was the tax assessor to do something like that,” he said.

Read why White thinks it’s OK to claim the tax break here.

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