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Riecken says property owners need to make sure they get their homestead deduction

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For immediate release:
May 10, 2013

 

INDIANAPOLIS - As we begin to see the full impact of a 2009 state law designed to safeguard against fraudulent homestead deduction claims, State Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) is encouraging local property owners to make sure they are continuing to get all the tax relief they are entitled to receive.

“We are starting to get reports that property owners are seeing their tax bills go up substantially, and it may be because of the loss of their homestead deduction,” Riecken said. “It also may be because they failed to file the proper paperwork that ensures they continue to get the deduction. If you are in this category, it is important that you take the time to check your status.”

In 2009, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law that was designed to eliminate illegitimate duplicate homestead deduction claims. Only one deduction can be claimed per person or couple, yet some were attempting to get multiple deductions for multiple properties.

Under the guidelines set out by the state Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), the process of implementation of the 2009 law was for county auditors to send out pink- or rose-colored forms over a period of three years (2010, 2011, and 2012) to those claiming the deduction. The property owner was required to return the form in one of those three years in order to get the homestead deduction validated.

“Last December, county auditors were expected to send notices to those people who had not sent back a form advising them that their deduction was going to be revoked,” Riecken said. “At the start of this year, auditors then began the process of removing the deductions.”

In Vanderburgh County, it is estimated that as many as 2,800 deductions were removed. However, Riecken emphasized that some of those deductions might have been removed because the property owner failed to file the proper paperwork and not because the person was falsely claiming multiple deductions.

The homestead deduction amounts to 60 percent of the assessed value of your home, or $45,000, whichever is less. The deduction also entitles the homeowner to receive a supplemental deduction.

“It is important to remember that the loss of the homestead deduction can affect how you are impacted by our state’s property tax caps,” Riecken said. “In addition, some people may not become fully aware of the impact of this change until they get their mortgage statements in the next few months, since those statements will reflect escrows adjusted to reflect the loss of the deduction.

“What is important to remember is that you can get the deduction reinstated if it was removed in error,” Riecken said. “You need to call the Vanderburgh County Auditor’s Office at 435-5293 or visit the office in person. You will need to provide some documentation that the deduction was removed by mistake. It will be left to the auditor to make a final decision on the case.”

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