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Quick Information Concerning Property Tax

We have set this section up to assist you and answer some of the commonly asked questions that our office staff receives. If for some reason your question isn't answered here, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to assist you.

What To Do When You Buy Property

New property owners often rely on their real estate agent, attorney, or other representative to properly record and assess their property. The final responsibility is still YOURS, as the new owner, to see that all the necessary steps have been completed.

The Steps are:

  1. Record your deed in the Probate Judge's Office.
  2. Assess the property in the Revenue Commissioner's Office.
  3. Claim any exemption do to you.
  4. Make sure all of this is done no later than December 31 for all property purchased before October 1, in order to receive a tax bill in your name for the next year.
  5. If your mortgage company has agreed to pay your property taxes, make sure we have the proper name and address for the company.
  6. Report any address changes promptly.

What do I do if I have added or removed improvements to my property?

The law requires that owners, or their agent, must call or come by the Revenue Commissioner's Office no later than December 31st to sign a new assessment officially reporting any improvements made to or any removal of structures or features from their property on or before October 1st of that year.

Examples of improvements that are assessable would include new structures or additions, swimming pools, extensive repairs, remodeling or renovations; adding a fireplace, extra bath, deck, carport, garage, etc. However, such things as re-roofing, minor repairs and painting (normal maintenance type items) would not require a reassessment.

Property Appraisal

Colbert County has 42,000 separate parcels of land that must be individually appraised for tax purposes. Each parcel of land must be described on a property record card (or computer printout). Characteristics about land and buildings are listed and valued separately and become the basis for fair market value.

Improvements to the land (buildings, garages, etc) are valued on a cost less depreciation method based on fair market value.

Assessment of Property

Each taxpayer is required by Alabama Law (Code 40-7-1) to provide a complete list of all property which is owned. The person acquiring property is responsible for reporting to the Revenue Commissioner a complete legal description of the property and at that time should claim any exemption he or he may be eligible for. The property owner must report any changes in ownership to the Revenue Commissioner. All assessments and bills are based on ownership status as of October 1 each year.

Property Classification

Class 3 Owner occupied residential or farm property 10% of appraised value
Class 2 Commercial or rental and all other property 20% of appraised value
Class 1 Utility 30% of appraised value

What is a millage rate?

The tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually by the Colbert County Board of Commissioners and the Colbert County Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. Each governing authority estimates their total revenue from other sources. This figure is subtracted from their overall budgetary needs, and then a millage rate is set that will generate the necessary revenues to fulfill budgetary requirements.

Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption is given to a property owner if he or she owns a single family residence and occupies it on the first day of the tax year for which they are applying.

Regular Homestead is available to all citizens of Alabama who own and occupy single family residences, including manufactured homes. The amount of exemption shall not exceed $4,000.00 (four thousand dollars) in assessed value for state taxes and not exceed $2,000.00 (two thousand dollars) for county taxes. If you are 65 years of age or a permanently disabled homeowner you may be eligible for a complete exemption of property taxes on the property where you reside. Your net taxable income must be less than $7,500.00 (seventy five hundred) for a complete exemption up to $12,000.00 (twelve thousand) for a partial exemption. It is the owners responsibility to let us know if you qualify.

Proof of age, when required, may be established by a driver's license, birth certificate, insurance forms, or other legal documents.

To prove disability, you must furnish a statement from two different sources as to your disability. Physician's letters, Veterans Administration and retirement letters are all acceptable. Only one proof is required if you have a letter from Social Security.

Exemptions should be applied for before December 31st of each year based on status to qualify for the next taxing or billing period. Renewals may be done by mail.

Current Use

Owners of farmland, pasture land or timber land that is producing agricultural products, livestock or wood products for sale to the general public may apply for current use exemption. This exemption allows for property to be appraised at less than fair market value when used only for the purposes specified.

Any owner of eligible property must make application to the Revenue Commissioner's Office prior to December 31st to receive the exemption or any exemption for the following year.


Industrial Abatements are also available. To qualify, the owner of the property must file with the Revenue Commissioner an application from the State Department of Revenue and the local governing agency.

Timetable for Collection of Taxes

Taxes are collected on the following schedule for the year ending on September 30:

October 1 Tax Due
January 1 Tax becomes delinquent & delinquent notices mailed.
February Registered letters mailed and court date set
March Advertise all unpaid properties in a local newspaper
April Tax Sale

What methods of payment can I use?

Taxes are due every year the first of October and are delinquent after December 31st, even if you do not receive a notice.

What happens if I do not pay my taxes?

Each year the taxes that are not paid are auctioned off at a public sale at the County courthouse. Individuals who come to the sale and buy Tax Liens are issued a "Certificate of Purchase". If no individual buys the tax lien, a Certificate of Purchase is made out and delivered to the Alabama State Land Agent.

The property owner has three years from the date of the tax sale to redeem the property from the Revenue Commissioner by paying all taxes and associated costs. If the property was bought at the tax sale by an individual and the owner does not redeem it within three years from the date of the tax sale, the individual who purchased the property is entitled to a tax deed.

After a tax deed has been issued, redemptions can no longer be made in the Revenue Commissioner's Office, and the property owner must either make and agreement with the tax lien holder or resort to a court of law to reclaim the property.

What is considered Business Personal Property?

All businesses owning personal property, aircraft, commercial mobile or portable units are subject to ad valorem tax. The property must be listed and assessed in the Revenue Commissioner's Office prior to December 31st each year. Failure to submit this information by the deadline may result in additional fees and penalties.

Taxes become due on October 1st, the same as ad valorem tax on real property. Delinquent personal property taxes are handled differently, however. Beginning January 1st, when taxes become delinquent, the Revenue Commissioner must proceed to collect the taxes due or sell the property to satisfy the tax lien. Personal property sold for taxes cannot be redeemed.

I live in a manufactured home, do I have to pay taxes?

The Alabama Manufactured Home Act (91-694) signed into law July 18, 1991, changed the way manufactured homes are treated for tax purposes in Alabama. Under the Act, those manufactured homes located on the owner's property and not held for rental or lease will be assessed to the owner. All other manufactured home owners must register and obtain a decal, the cost is based on the size and age of the manufactured home. Manufactured home owners who do not own the land where it is located must register within 30 days of purchase and renew each year on October the 1st. The become delinquent after November the 30th.

Do I pay a Fire Fee?

Yes, if you are outside the city limits!! All livable dwellings, including manufactured homes, outside the city limits of Tuscumbia, Sheffield, or Muscle Shoals are charged a yearly $50.00 fire fee. This law was voted on and passed by the citizens of Colbert County. The $$50.00 fee is divided between the Volunteer Fire Departments of Colbert County.

There is also a .10 (ten cents) per acre charge for timber on anything over 10 acres; which goes to the Alabama Forestry Commission.