MILTON, Ga. — Though they may not have noticed, some Milton residents were overcharged on 2017 and 2018 tax bills, while others underpaid on the Greenspace Bond ad valorem tax. A computer error applied a full exemption for residents with a general homestead exemption, resulting in those households paying less while homes without an exemption on file paid more than their fair share to the city. Officials did not give an exact amount, but said the discrepancy amounted to a few dollars difference on each household’s tax bill, either over or under the correct amount.
Milton officials discussed the issue at the Milton City Council’s Aug. 5 meeting, ultimately deciding to take no action to recalculate the old tax bills for residents.
That decision was at the direction of City Attorney Ken Jarrard, who advised against the city sending out amended tax bills to collect from those who underpaid while providing a potential credit for those who were overcharged.
“I wouldn’t want to throw our entire collection process going forward into just another issue where we are making these ad-hoc distinctions on the tax bill again,” he said. “I feel like this is a situation where we learn from the problem and move forward.”
He also warned if the city acted to address the issue, it would likely spend “more in litigation and administration cost than this is potentially worth.”
Another factor in favor of moving forward is that Milton did collect the correct amount of taxes, around $120,000 for the Greenspace Bond ad valorem tax.
“We are not short anything,” City Manager Steve Krokoff said. “The way we assess tax liability based on general obligation bond is we determine the full debt service and split it up among all taxpayers. What happened here is regular deductions got applied across the board. The $120,000 is still in the city’s coffers, just more came from others than those who had exemptions. Those who didn’t have exemptions probably paid a few more bucks than they would have otherwise.”
City officials considered applying a credit for residents who overpaid if those residents came forward. However, Jarrard had previously said because the error resulted in just a few dollars, it would be “extremely challenging for the taxpayer to know there was an issue whatsoever.”
Officials said the computing issue has been resolved and 2019 tax bills are correct.