Freeze on property tax assessments clears Georgia House

ATLANTA – A long-term cap on property tax assessments failed to pass the Georgia House of Representatives, but a two-year moratorium on assessment increases did.

The freeze on assessments now moves to the Senate for consideration. If finalized, it would mean local tax offices couldn't increase property values used to figure taxes, but it would not preclude local governments from raising millage rates.

The legislation, House Bill 233, is the latest Republican attempt to take control of property values, and it passed the House 110-63.

Republicans moved to the moratorium strategy as it became clear there wasn't enough support for House Resolution 1, an annual cap on assessment increases that supporters tried to lock into the Georgia Constitution.

That would have taken a statewide referendum, and a two-thirds majority vote.

Since House Bill 233 doesn't call for a state referendum on the issue, and property tax rules are laid out in the Constitution, Democrats labelled it an unconstitutional power grab by the state. But proponents said this year's efforts to reform Georgia's property tax systems are based on a simple idea: "reassessments should be tied more closely to one's investment... rather than an unrealized gain calculated by some bureaucrat," legislation sponsor state Rep. Ed Lindsey said.