ATLANTA (May 8, 2009) – Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law this week a measure designed to prevent property tax increases. House Bill 233 prohibits any increase in assessed property values for the next two years. Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) sponsored the legislation in the Senate. 

 "Georgia property owners have seen record declines in values over the last 12 months. Unfortunately the broken property tax system has not recognized the reality of the market and consequently many property owners are paying inflated tax bills. This two year moratorium will prevent property assessments from going up but will allow them to go down. This new law will provide much-needed stability for Georgia taxpayers," stated Rogers.

The new law applies to commercial and residential properties and becomes effective immediately. The moratorium applies to tax bills for 2009-2011.  This legislation caps all real property valuation assessments at zero percent from January 1, 2009, through the Sunday before the second Monday in January, 2011.  This applies to real property assessed for county, county and independent school districts, and city purposes.

The legislation does not prohibit the decrease in valuation assessment, nor does the cap apply to correction of an assessment by local tax officials. Properties that are sold or transferred must be valued at the most recent assessment.  Additions and improvements to real property or property rezoned at the property owner’s request are valued at fair market value.  It will not alter or affect new homestead exemptions.

U.S. homeowners lost three point three trillion dollars in home equity last year. One in six homeowners now owe more on their home than it is actually worth. The average home in metro Atlanta is worth less today than it was in 2002.