News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 15, 2012

Deadline looms for homestead verification

Less than two months left to file form for property tax deduction

TERRE HAUTE — Nearing the end of a three-year notification process, Vigo County taxpayers have less than two months to file a homestead verification form to continue to receive a property tax deduction.

Pink-colored verification forms were first mailed with property tax bills in 2010, then again in 2011 and this year. The form must be completed and submitted to the county auditor’s office at least once prior to a Jan. 1, 2013 deadline.

“There are some people who have filled them out several times, submitting a form each year. They did not need to do that … it only needs to be submitted once,” said Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi.

The forms are required under a state measure aimed at reducing duplicate homestead property tax deductions.

“The homestead deduction gives a qualifying individual or couple a substantial property tax benefit by lowering their property tax obligation,” Brian Bailey, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, said in a written statement. “When individuals who do not qualify receive this benefit, it costs other taxpayers more.”

In 2010, about 3,400 parcels in Vigo County were “questionable” as double-dipping on homestead deductions for property taxes following a review from SRI Inc., an Indianapolis firm hired to research property parcels and tax payments back to 2007.

The county since has collected about $380,000 in back taxes/penalties from duplicate homestead deductions, Seprodi said.

A homestead deduction allows homeowners who use a property as a primary residence to qualify for a reduction of the lesser of 60 percent of the property’s assessed value or $45,000, plus up to an additional 35 percent of the remaining assessed value through the supplemental homestead deduction, according to the Department of Local Government Finance.

Of the more than 60,000 property parcels in Vigo County, Seprodi estimated about 40,000 parcels have been designated for the deduction from submitted forms.

“Presently, we are trying to get all of that information into the [county computer] system,” he said.

By the end of January, Seprodi said his office will send out a letter to taxpayers receiving the homestead deduction who have not filed the homestead verification form on or before Dec. 31.

“We have to notify taxpayers if they have not complied, we will remove their deduction. They will have two weeks [after that notification] to come in [to the auditor’s office] to make sure they comply,” Seprodi said.

Taxpayers whose taxes are paid by a mortgage company or bank should have received the pink notifications, along with the bank, Seprodi said. Any such taxpayer who has not received a notification should contact his office at 812-462-3361.

“Once we check it, we take care of it and it is not a problem,” Seprodi said.

“If a mistake is made like that, it can be corrected” even after the deadline, the auditor said. “The problem that arises is when a taxpayer gets a notice, does nothing, just lets it ride, and because the taxpayer didn’t act, the deduction will be removed.”

Additional information about the homestead deduction is available on the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance’s website at www.in.gov/dlgf/8455.htm.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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