Cobb Tax Commissioner Carla Jackson said her office mailed 256,610 property tax bills last week, which total more than $614 million in revenue to the county for the tax year 2014. In the previous tax year, the county collected $582 million.
Of the total number of bills, 242,064 were for real property, totaling about $564 million, and 14,546 were for personal property, totaling about $50 million.
Jackson said real property includes land and any permanent improvements to the land, such as a house or commercial building. Personal property primarily consists of business assets, including computers, equipment, inventory, airplanes and boats.
The growth in property tax revenue comes primarily from an increase in the value of taxable property in the county: The value of real and personal property increased from about $25.9 billion in 2013 to about $27.2 billion in 2014, an increase of about $1.3 billion, according to the county.
Property tax bills are due Oct. 15, Jackson said, and payments must either be received or U.S. postmarked on or before that date. A metered postmark is not acceptable proof.
Payments received on Oct. 16 will incur a 5 percent late fee; 1 percent in interest is added each month the taxes remain unpaid, Jackson said.
“So, for instance, on Oct. 17, it would be (a) 6 percent (fee),” she said.
Stephen White, director of the Cobb Tax Assessor’s Office, described how property taxes are calculated.
“Your fair market value is taken and multiplied by 40 percent because in Georgia, you’re taxed on 40 percent of your fair market value,” he said. “And that’s called your assessed value. And then you’re assessed (multiplied by) your millage rate, and that’s how the tax is arrived at.”
The county Tax Commissioner’s Office collects property taxes for the state, the county, the Cobb School District, the Cumberland and Town Center Community Improvement Districts and the new Cumberland Special Services District, which is in its first year. Cobb’s six cities bill and collect their own property taxes.
Each of these taxing bodies has its own millage rate. For instance, Cobb County’s millage rate is 7.32 mills and the Cobb School District’s rate is 18.9. The Cobb Board of Commissioners sets the county’s rates; the Board of Education sets the school district’s rate. Jackson said, compared to last year, the millage rates decreased in all authorities except the Cumberland CID, which has remained at 5 mills since its inception.
White said his office examines property values annually, but they do not necessarily change every year.
“We review all values of all real property every year. We examine every neighborhood, commercially and residentially, every year to make sure that our values (are) still in compliance. And then we adjust the ones where our value has fallen outside of compliance; it’s now time to revalue the property — up or down.”
Jackson said the property tax bills were mailed in batches beginning Aug. 13, and the final batch was mailed Friday.
Cobb property owners have several methods of payment available. Jackson said about half of all property owners pay their property taxes through their mortgage companies, which roll the tax bill into the owners’ monthly payments.
“And those people still receive a paper bill, but we also electronically exchange data with the mortgage servicing companies,” she said.
Of the other 50 percent, most taxpayers mail in their payments.
“And they mail them in the last week, of course,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Property owners can also pay in person at one of three locations: 736 Whitlock Avenue, which is just off the Square; 4400 Lower Roswell Road, near the intersection of Johnson Ferry Road in east Cobb; and 4700 Austell Road in south Cobb.
The final option is to pay the property tax bill from home, either online or over the phone, Jackson said. Paying by electronic check is free, but a 2.2 percent fee is added to the bill for those wishing to pay by credit or debit card, a fee Jackson said goes to the credit card processors.
Jackson said a vast majority of property owners pay their tax bill on time.
“Normally, we get in the low 90 (percent) on time (payments). And then through the levy process and delinquent collections, we will approach 100 percent, but never quite get there.”
As of July 31, the county has collected 99.35 percent of property taxes it billed for the 2013 tax year, Jackson said. It has collected 99.75 percent of 2012 property taxes, she added.
“Obviously, we still are attempting to collect any unpaid taxes,” Jackson said.