Tax Relief grant cut, homeowners may pay more - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tax Relief grant cut, homeowners may pay more

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

January 22, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Property taxes have already been paid, but you may have to write another check to the tax man very soon. The Governor cut the homeowners tax relief grant from the budget. Homeowners were already given the grant, and now, you may have to pay it back.

Betsy and Bret Urick are homeowners and soon to be parents, which means they'll soon be paying for lots of diapers, and formula and baby clothes. They may also have to dish out more money for their property taxes.

"It does seem unfair," said Betsy. Most of the people we talked to today agreed, If they even knew what we were talking about. Most people had not heard of the grant, nor that it could be taken back.

Urick said, "I'm sure a lot of people will be mad." The Uricks say if they are sent a bill, they'll pay it. But for many people, 60 days notice to pay a major, unexpected bill, won't be enough time. "There's a lot of people out there that $300 is going to make a big difference in their overall income and those are the people I feel really bad for."

Phillip Wingate isn't especially happy to hear about the grant being cut from the state's budget. He said, "Taxes is taxes. You don't enjoy paying them no more than you have to." Especially when you've already paid them, and get another bill in the mail.

That's what may happen for millions of Georgians if the Homeowners tax relief grant isn't funded by the state. It's up to each county how they'll handle the cut. Dougherty County plans to send out bills, as soon as a decision is finalized. Urick said, "It's not going to help anybody."

There's a lot of confusion out there about what the grant actually is. It is available to everyone who has homestead exemption, but it's not homestead exemption. Homestead exemption amounts to about $79 in Albany. The homeowners tax relief grant, is a much larger chunk of money, about $316 dollars for homeowners in Albany. That amount varies according to the tax rate in your county.

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