Rep. Brett Harrell Introduces Property Protection Bill

ATLANTA – State Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) today announced the introduction of House Bill 159, legislation prohibiting non-tax fees from appearing on property tax bills.

“Too often citizens across Georgia experience increased property tax bills, higher monthly mortgage payments, and, in some cases, liens against their property, all resulting from the addition of nontax fees added to their property tax bills,” said Rep. Harrell. “The type and number of fees continues to increase each year. This legislation will help ease the burden on Georgia households and increase government transparency.”

Harrell’s bill, originally introduced in 2011 with nearly 60 co-signers, simply says “[n]o property tax bill issued by the tax commissioner … shall include any nontax related fees or assessments….” This would mean that no property tax bill in Georgia could include any nontax related fees or assessments.

This legislation addresses a growing concern among property owners across the state. As home prices remain low and Georgians carefully budget, property owners continue to face increasing property tax bills. This is often due to nontax fees. For example, though millage rates and property value assessments may not change, nontax fees for local expenses like street lights, speed bumps, storm water, and sanitation can add hundreds of dollars to a property tax bill. In fact, it is not uncommon for as much as 15-20 percent of a total property tax bill to originate from nontax fees.

Further, while property owners can legally deduct property taxes from their income taxes, the IRS has indicated that these nontax fees are not tax deductible. The inclusion of these nontax fees on property tax bills, therefore, increases the opportunity for Georgia residents to accidently file erroneous income tax returns. HB 159 would solve this problem by allowing property owners to clearly distinguish between taxes and fees.

For more information on HB 159, please click here.

Representative Brett Harrell represents citizens of District 106, which includes portions of portions of the City of Snellville, Grayson, Lawrenceville, and Loganville in Gwinnett County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as the Vice Chairman on the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee. He also serves on the Regulated Industries, Transportation, and Ways & Means committees.