Update on HB 291 to prohibit billing non-tax fees on property tax bills

HB 291 was amended during the legislative process last year and ultimately failed to pass.

I have continued to discuss with many my proposal (HB 291) to prohibit billing non-tax fees on property tax bills and the measure has gained significant support including the Georgia Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia. The Georgia Department of Revenue informs me that based on the current process and information reporting (inadequate as a result of the practice of billing of non-tax fees on property tax bills) the Department has no means to audit or determine the extent of lost revenue due the state. The DOR agrees, however, that revenue is lost and supports measures that would aid in accurate reporting. Tax Commissioners, in general, are cooperative with local governments, but most would prefer that any fee or assessment appearing on a property tax bill have the same lien ability as a tax. In as much as most of these fees and assessments do not have the same lien status as a property tax, these Tax Commissioners would prefer they be removed.

I have also continued to work with the Association of County Commissioners and the Georgia Municipal Association as well as individual county and city governments in an attempt to develop some compromise. To date, areas of compromise with one appear to create issues with another. ACCG and GMA, to the best of my knowledge, continue to oppose based on an argument of increased billing cost and delinquencies. HB 291 would permit mailing two statements in the same envelope should the local governments decide – mitigating the increased cost argument. Other local governments and Tax Commissioners report similar collection rates with billings separate from property taxes – again, mitigating the increased delinquency argument.

As you may recall, HB 291 received unanimous “do pass” support from Republican members of the Ad Valorem Tax Subcommittee last year. Ways & Means Vice Chairman David Knight is a co-sponsor and Ad Valorem Subcommittee Members Bob Bryant, Don Parsons, and Tom Rice are co-signers on HB 291.

I am most grateful to Ways & Means Chairman Channell that has had prepared a 2012 Committee substitute to place HB 291 back into its original language. I have requested and anticipate a hearing on HB 291 within the next few weeks.

Click link to read a bill summary, the bill itself (one page in plain English), and those that co-signed on the day of introduction last session.

HB 291 Summary, Bill, and Co-Signers

A very special thank you also to Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele. Commissioner Steele, a strong supporter of transparency in government, has voluntarily modified the 2012 Property Tax Bills to better identify non-tax fees and assessments. In the sample provided, non-tax fees and assessments total nearly 15% of the total bill.

View a sample 2012 Property Tax Bill here.

Join in support of Richard Steele for Tax Commissioner on Facebook here.

Thank you for your interest and support,

 

Brett Harrell (R-106)