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Posted: March 1, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Homestead tax exemption spared

Federal stimulus funds allow tax relief to stay

Newton County property owners who received a homestead exemption last year won't have to give any of that money back thanks in part to the federal stimulus package. Stimulus money is allowing the state to reimburse Newton County entities for the $5.69 million in homestead exemptions they handed out in 2008.

Since August, Gov. Sonny Perdue had been saying that the state could not afford to reimburse Georgia counties because of the state’s needed budget cutting. However, with new aid from the federal stimulus package, Perdue was able to sign House Bill 143 on Feb. 17 to insure the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant for fiscal year 2009, which ends June 30.

If the bill had not been signed, then the 23,132 Newton County residents who received homestead exemptions would have had to pay back those tax deductions. The average Newton County exemption was for $246, according to data from Tax Commissioner Barbara Dingler.

County Chairman Kathy Morgan said the extra money is important to the county’s taxpayers.

“I felt it would have been a disservice to the taxpayers (to charge them for the exemptions),” Morgan said. “$200 to $300 is a lot of money for a lot of our taxpayers.”

Dingler said that HB 143 guarantees the tax relief grant for 2008 property taxes only, so homeowners might face larger bills later this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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