With the deadline more than a month away, more than 368,000 senior citizens and disabled homeowners across Ohio have already applied for the newly-expanded homestead exemption, the Ohio Department of Taxation announced Thursday, Aug. 23.
The number of new homestead applications was compiled by the Department of Taxation through a quick survey of Ohio’s county auditors as of Friday, Aug. 17. The department also released county-by-county totals on its Web site.
Ohio Tax Commissioner Richard A. Levin said the statewide total is a rough snapshot, but it suggests about two-thirds of the Ohio homeowners newly-eligible for the expanded property tax relief program have now signed up.
“The response has been tremendous,” Levin said. “Everywhere I go, taxpayers ask how a friend or a family member can sign up. The homestead exemption means real property tax relief for homeowners, and people are responding.”
The expansion and overhaul of Ohio’s homestead exemption was a key component of the two-year state budget bill signed into law on June 30 by Governor Ted Strickland.
Previously, benefits were tiered by income and limited to senior citizens or permanently disabled Ohioans who earned less than $26,200 per year. Governor Strickland’s changes mean that all senior citizen homeowners and all permanently and totally disabled homeowners – regardless of income – may now shield a flat $25,000 of the market value of their home from property taxes.
An additional 550,000 additional homeowners are expected to qualify – not including the 224,000 or-so homeowners who were already signed up for exemption in previous years. But in order to receive the exemption, these additional homeowners must sign up with their local county auditor by Oct. 1.
The challenge now is to sign up the roughly 180,000 taxpayers who may be eligible but have not yet signed up. Levin encouraged Ohioans who know of family members, friends or neighbors who may be eligible to ask them about the homestead exemption.
“If you have a parent who may be eligible, make sure to ask. If you are active in your church, check with others in your congregation,” Levin said. “This means real property tax relief, and we don’t want people to miss out.”
To qualify for the new Homestead Exemption, homeowners must live in their home as their primary residence and be either:
At least 65 years old or turn 65 in 2007 or,
Certified totally and permanently disabled as of Jan. 1, 2007, or,
The surviving spouse of a qualified homeowner who was at least 59 years old on the date of their spouse’s death.
The exact amount of savings will vary based on local tax rates, but across Ohio, the savings is expected to average about $400 per year. The expanded homestead exemption, which is also available for the owners of manufactured homes, starts with tax bills payable in 2008.
Taxpayers seeking information about the program may contact their local county auditor. Additional information is also available at tax.ohio.gov or by calling the Ohio Department of Taxation taxpayer services hotline at (800) 282-1780.