The deadline to apply for the Homestead Exemption for both new applicants and late applicants is June 2nd, and according to Ross County Auditor Tom Spetnagel, this may be the last chance for some homeowners to qualify for this property tax break.
"A restriction imposed by state lawmakers last year will limit who is eligible for the Homestead Exemption credit in the future," Spetnagel said. "But there is a window of opportunity for anyone who was eligible last year to enroll in the program under the old guidelines."
Approximately 7,000 homeowners in Ross County were enrolled in the Homestead Exemption Program last year. Those homeowners saw a reduction in their annual real estate taxes by an average of more than $320 by being in the program, according to the Auditor’s office.
"This is a welcome tax break for eligible seniors and disabled homeowners, but last-minute provisions added to the state’s budget bill will affect who is eligible to receive these benefits in the future," Spetnagel said.
According to Spetnagel, new rules governing the program are in effect for this year and will impact eligible homeowners in one of three ways depending on their status-whether the homeowner is a new applicant, a late applicant or a past recipient. Spetnagel says that if you are a new applicant-meaning that you own your home and will turn 65 years old in 2014 or become permanently and totally disabled-you will now be subject to an income test to qualify for the program. The new rules require applicants to have a total household income of $30,500 or less to be eligible.
The Auditor indicated that late applicants-homeowners who qualified for the Homestead Exemption last year but failed to signup-may enroll in the program without being subject to the income restriction as long as they meet the June 2, 2014 deadline.
"If you qualified for the program last year but failed to enroll for whatever reason, you can file in 2014 as a late applicant and you will not have to meet the income test," Spetnagel said.
Spetnagel also stated that past recipients will continue to qualify for the Homestead Exemption under the old rules. Current recipients do not need to re-apply, will never be subject to any income test, and will continue to receive the benefits of the program even if they sell their current residence and purchase a new home in the future.
"The new rules that go into effect this year mean major changes, so if you have any questions or need additional information, we encourage you to contact our office at 740-702-3080."
Applications are available at the Auditor’s Office at 2 N. Paint Street, or can be downloaded from the Auditor’s website at www.co.ross.oh.us/auditor.