Large numbers take school system property tax exemption


Property owners each fall participate in the annual ritual of paying property taxes. For some age 65 or older, and for some with total disability or those who are totally disabled veterans, they opt to take an exemption for half, or in some cases all, of taxes that go to the school system. Today, there are more than 11,088 people in Fayette County taking one of those exemptions.

One of the variables that comes into play when paying the annual property tax bill, the one that affects only the school system, are exemptions on school system taxes based on age, disability, and income. Currently, at 19.25 mills, the school system share of the tax bill represents far and away the majority of property taxes paid.

 In total across Fayette, there are 11,000 people taking either a 50 percent exemption or a 100 percent exemption on the school system portion of the tax bill.

A 50 percent exemption for school tax is available to those age 65 and older, with the property owner required to be at least 65 years of age on Jan. 1 of the tax year.

A 100 percent exemption for school tax is available for those age 65 or older and with a Georgia taxable income of less than $15,000. Georgia taxable income does not include Social Security income or pensions.

The current number of people taking the school tax exemption by category are:

• 50 percent exempt because of age – 4,201

• 100 percent exempt because of age and income – 5,887

• 50 percent exempt because of total disability – 176

• 100 percent exempt because of total disability and income – 551

• 50 percent exempt totally disabled veteran – 74

• 100 percent exempt totally disabled veteran and income – 199

The Fayette CountyTax Commissioner’s Office, at 770-461-3652, has complete information on the exemption criteria.

It is no mystery that Fayette County population is aging significantly faster than most others in metro Atlanta, and significantly faster than in Georgia’s 10 most affluent counties.

Estimated figures for 2018 from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that 18.2 percent of Fayette’s population of 113,459 were age 65 or older.

A demographic study performed last year for the Fayette County Board of Education showed that, by 2025, approximately 34 percent of the county’s population will be age 60 or older.


    • That was my conclusion – political suicide, until I read Claude’s response below. Not only does he make a good point about the many abundant sources of tax revenue, but in the next to last paragraph he raises another I hadn’t considered. He talks about making Fayette unattractive to seniors who may move away and his and my first reaction to that is “no we certainly don’t want to do that” but I wonder. 2 things at play here. 1. Fayette County has a very high % of seniors (11,000 not paying all their school tax) and 2. Fayetteville, Tyrone and possibly some in PTC have this huge crush on Millennials and think that generation will flock here if we just design things to their liking. With just those facts and the limited intelligence of most elected officials, I could see someone proposing that the senior exemptions go away in order to make the seniors go away and then the millennials come in and we have a new and younger population paying the full tax load.

      You can easily see some ambitious millennial staffers and those elected officials that think they are actually social engineers seriously discussing this. Impossible you say? Just think back about 10 years and some of the things you thought were impossible back then. Female NFL players, 12 different genders, people on video throwing milk and other things at police officers with no consequences, sanctuary cities, Comedy Channell considered one of the top news sources and of course how 3 people on Twitter can tweet something stupid and it makes national headlines or causes riots. And of course one of those tweeters might be the President.

  1. I wonder which county commissioner will have the courage to point out the problem with 11,000 people (or is it 11,000 property owners which would be even worse) getting a pass on school taxes? I think that means the other taxpayers are subsiding the 11,000. Should the 11,000 not pay their fair share? It is obvious that the policy should be changed, but since every single one of the 11,000 votes in every election, methinks this policy will continue until we all die off in 12 years either from age or global warming as AOC predicts.

    Let’s get those windmills and solar panels up on the schools now. After all, its for the children.

  2. Interesting as they are, these figures are somewhat misleading. It is only if they are homeowners living in their own home that people over 65 can receive a property tax exemption on school tax. Thus owners of commercial property, raw land, and renters or residents of retirement homes are not exempt. Sure, renters and retirement home residents do not pay property school taxes directly, but their landlords pay it and it’s included in the rent or fees they pay.

    The value of real estate property owned by corporations or businesses in the county is quite high. They pay full school tax. The people who are under age 65 will be 65 one day, and they’ll get their exemption. Everybody pays the school sales tax (SPLOST). Everybody pays federal and state taxes that end up going to our school system. It’s not as if people over age 65 aren’t paying anything: they are still paying quite a bit. Yet we know that very few people over 65 burden the county with the expense of educating their children.

    Counties like Cobb County exempt the homes of all homeowners over age 60 regardless of income. Cobb has a reputation as having excellent schools, too. In many ways, Fayette is competing with other counties to attract good people, and some people may be induced to change their residence if Fayette County makes itself unattractive to older residents who cause the county no school expense.

    When Fayette held its special election to adopt our local law on school tax exemptions for homeowners over the age of 65, on June 11, 1985, 89.84% of the voters voted for it. That ought to tell you something. If it made sense then, it most likely still makes sense now. We know some people boast of coming to Fayette County to get their children educated here and then plan to move out before they’re 65: these are the people with the incentive to soak the old folks with the burden of educating their children and who might be stirring up the pot today.