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Auditor: Don't wait on property tax deductions

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh is urging property owners to not wait until the last minute to file for property tax deductions.

"With the holiday season and winter weather approaching, property owners should file deduction applications as soon as they are able," she said. "We don't want anyone to miss out on a deduction because they missed the application deadline."

Applications for property tax deductions must be completed and submitted to the Clay County Auditor's Office no later than Dec. 31, in order for the impact to be seen on 2010 property tax bills.

"If you have been receiving credits or deductions on previous bills, property owners would not have to file again unless they have made changes through their respective financial institution and the information has been re-recorded," Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times. "Also, it is the taxpayer's responsibility to double check to make sure whether or not they are receiving the deductions they may qualify for."

Alumbaugh stressed it is especially important to file for deductions by the end of the year as some of the credits will not be available on the 2010 pay 2011 tax bills.

"The 2009 pay 2010 taxes will be the last time the Homestead Credit will be available for taxpayers to utilize," she said. "The state has made some changes in the past few years and this is another credit that is being eliminated."

While many changes have been made by the state in recent years, new homebuyers are benefiting by not having to wait to file for deductions.

"Those who purchased a home this year can also file for deductions, and this includes those who will become property owners in the next couple months," Alumbaugh said.

Alumbaugh added there is an exception. Those who purchase a home which would cause the split of a property must have done so by March 1, 2009, in order to see the deductions take effect on the next round of tax bills.

"If an individual has two homes within the same parcel and sells one, the deduction will not take effect until the 2010 pay 2011 bill if the purchase was made after March 1 because we cannot split a parcel assessment after the figures have been submitted for that tax year," she said.

However, she also warned homebuyers to beware some of the perceived perks in the purchase process.

"Homebuyers need to know just because the previous owner may have had enough deductions where they either had a low amount of or no property taxes, they do not carry over," Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times. "When ownership of property is transferred, all deductions on the books are eliminated and the new owners must apply for their own deductions."

Some taxpayers will also have an additional form to fill out when paying their first property tax installment in the spring.

"Right now it is voluntary, but starting in May 2010 the state will require those receiving a Homestead Standard Deduction to fill out an identification verification form," Alumbaugh said.

"Those receiving the deduction will have to include the address of their homestead and the last five digits of their Social Security and State ID numbers, as well as their spouses when applicable."

Alumbaugh explained the state will be requiring this information as it is creating a database in an attempt to ensure residents are not receiving more than one homestead credit.

In addition to meeting eligibility requirements for all deductions, the applicant must either own or be buying a property under contract to receive potential deductions.

For more information regarding property tax deductions and qualifications, log on to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance's Property Tax Deductions web site at www.in.gov/dlgf/2344.htm. Deduction applications may be downloaded from this site or picked up at the Clay County Auditor's Office, located on the first floor of the Clay County Courthouse.

For specific questions about property tax deduction eligibility, contact the Auditor's Office at 448-9001.

"We welcome questions from residents because we want there to be as little confusion as possible, and we don't want people to think they are receiving a deduction and become frustrated when they receive their tax bills when they realize they aren't," Alumbaugh said

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