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Taxpayers have opportunity to contest 2010 land values
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Any Effingham County taxpayer who disagrees with the current value of their property can file a property tax return between Jan. 1 and April 1 with the Effingham County Board of Tax Assessors.  

If a taxpayer filed a property tax return or paid taxes on their property the year before and does not file a return on their property for the current tax year, then they are considered to have filed a return on the same property at the same valuation as the year before. They also are considered to have claimed the same homestead exemptions and personal property exemption as they have in the previous year.  

Property owners can apply for homestead exemption year round; however the application must be filed by April 1, 2010 to be applied for the 2010 digest year. Any applications received after that date will be applied to 2011.  

The requirement for filing for homestead exemptions are the taxpayer must own the land and building and live on the property on Jan. 1, 2010. Local exemptions for all taxpayers who qualify are $4,000 county and $2,000 school. If you are age 62 and your net income is less than $10,000 a year, you may qualify for a $6,000 county and $20,000 school exemption.  You are allowed a maximum social security and retirement income of $55,742.  

If your income is more than the maximum but still under $10,000, you may qualify for this additional exemption.  The application for exemptions is available in the Tax Assessors office and the staff will assist you in completing the application.  

There are other special assessment programs available to property owners. These special programs include Preferential Agricultural Property, Conservation Use Property, Environmentally Sensitive Property, Residential Transitional Property and the Forest Land Protection Act covenant. They are 10-year covenants on all, except the Forest Land Protection Act, which is a 15-year covenant.  

If you breach the covenant agreement, a penalty is assessed.  

Appraisers in the Tax Assessors office can explain the special programs and help you with the application. The deadline for filing for a special assessment is April 1. If you received a letter from the Board of Tax Assessors in the latter part of 2009 notifying you that your Conservation Use Covenant would end on Dec. 31, 2009, you have until April 1 to file an application to keep your property in this special assessment program.  

The county Web site has information on filing a property tax return. You can also find the answer to some questions and view property information and parcel maps on our Web site at: Forms are available on the site. The forms can be returned by email, U S mail or dropped off in the tax assessors office.

If you do not have access to a computer and cannot go the assessor’s office, you may write to the Board of Tax Assessors — identify your property with the map and parcel number and account number from your property tax bill — and disagree with the 2010 value of your property. You will need to state the value you feel should be the fair market value of the property.  

Any other information that you provide concerning the property will be considered when the property tax return is reviewed.

If you have any questions please contact the Effingham County Board of Tax Assessors office at 754-2125.