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Election 2016 preview: Senior homestead exemption revision

In this series, we will preview what you need to know about the local contested races, constitutional amendments and special election questions on your Nov. 8 ballot. This week, we look at the District 5 Board of Education race and two special election questions for Forsyth County voters.

Other education-related contested races and ballot questions that will appear on your ballot:

* Both District 5 BOE candidates oppose Opportunity School District

SPLOST for education local ballot question

WILL APPEAR AS: To revise certain residents’ eligibility for a homestead exemption from all Forsyth County school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes. (Act 505 House Bill No. 1102 2015-2016 Regular Session Georgia General Assembly)

“Shall the Act be approved which reduces the eligibility of certain senior citizen residents who have minor children living with them to receive a complete homestead exemption from Forsyth County school district ad valorem taxes.”

WHAT IT IS: The Forsyth County Board of Education prompted legislation in the Georgia General Assembly to revise the senior homestead exemption act that allows people aged 65 or over to not have to pay property taxes for education.

“The most important thing is that it’s an amendment, or a revision. It is not to eliminate the senior citizen exemption,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for Forsyth County Schools.

If approved, residents aged 65 and older who are the legal guardians of students living in their home are exempt from paying school taxes. If they are not the legal guardian of a student who is living in their home, they must pay property taxes for education.

“The school board looked into it, and they found they were losing tax revenue because of this loophole,” Caracciolo said. “Given our growth, they wanted to put it before voters now.”

If the resolution fails to get a majority of votes in favor, the exemption will remain as it is now.

“If you are over 65 and don’t have kids in the home, you’re still exempt,” Caracciolo said.

Opposition has come as a result of deemed confusing language.

“We understand that having a senior exemption for those over the age of 65 is attractive to living in Forsyth County,” Caracciolo said.

She said the district lost an estimated half-million dollars in fiscal year 2015 due to the loophole.