Some disabled veterans in Columbia County will receive an extra check in the mail around Thanksgiving.
The money, likely to average about $1,100, is a result of tax overcharges to about 345 disabled veterans with homestead exemptions, commission Chairman Ron Cross said.
The federal government raised the homestead exemption allowed for disabled veterans after 2007 from $50,000 to $63,780, Cross said. Either the states weren’t notified after the change, he said, or the state failed to notify local tax officials.
The Georgia Department of Revenue notified counties in April and provided more details in June. Since then, the county tax office has been reviewing tax records for the past five years, finding out which veterans had exemptions in each year, and determining the amount each is owed, Cross said.
Qualified veterans won’t have to take any action to receive the refund.
“We don’t want them to have to jump through hoops,” County Administrator Scott Johnson said. “They overpaid their taxes. We’re going to give it back.”
Cross said the county expects to first calculate how much each veteran is due for each year he or she has been allowed an exemption. The plan is to try to have the refunds ready to mail by November.
The total amount overcharged from the four-year period is just more than $401,000, ranging from an $81,000 overcharge in 2008 to just more than $106,000 in 2011. The taxable amounts for 2012 already have been adjusted so those affected are seeing accurate bills this year, according to a calculation sheet from the county.
Money for refunds will be spread among the county’s four government entities: the county, school board, Grovetown and Harlem, based on their share of total tax revenues, Cross said, with the bulk of the total – more than $250,000 – coming from the school system.
In other action Tuesday, commissioners awarded a bid of $3.1 million to Garnto and Gearig Brothers Construction of Evans for site preparation at the athletic complex and park behind the Lakeside school complex.
The 70-acre complex is a joint venture of the county and the school system. Site work is expected to begin in August and take about six months, and it will provide a rear entrance to the property; water, sewer and storm drains; and rough clearing.
Full construction, split between the school board and county, isn’t expected to begin for at least another year, officials have said, with all funding for the project coming from sales taxes.