Wrong Name on Tax Bill

After purchasing property, many people may be surprised to learn that the tax bill is still in the previous owner's name. They may begin to worry, quite naturally, that the deed was not recorded or someone made an error. However, it is perfectly normal for the first tax bill after a sale to be in the former owner's name. Why is that?

The assessment date in Georgia is January 1 (O.C.G.A. 48-5-10). In other words, the tax bill is issued to the January 1 owner of the property. Property transferred after January 1 does not appear in the new owner's name on the tax digest until the following year.

Still, it would be prudent for the owner to verify that a deed has been recorded in the office of the Clerk of Court and that the Tax Assessors' office has modified their records. IMPORTANT: The mailing address that the Tax Assessors have should be confirmed because it may have changed when the buyer moved to his/her new property.

The staff of the Tax Assessors' office, on a regular basis, prints deeds that are recorded. Processing of the deeds involves identifying the proper action needed to complete the transfers from one name to another--such as a name change or a split (sale of only a portion of the property). The final keying of the current year's deeds is usually delayed because the first six to eight months of the current year is dedicated to compiling the tax digest, which is based on all transactions recorded in the previous year.