Now is time to secure tax break

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 8, 2001

The beginning of the year is always a good time for some arearesidents to secure a tax break with homestead exemption.

Homestead exemption is a state-allowed tax credit forhomeowners, according to Lawrence County Tax Assessor-CollectorAnnette Applewhite.

“You have to own the land and the home for you to get thatcredit,” she said.

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Lincoln County Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan added that aperson must own and occupy the property.

Once an exemption is filed it is retained in most counties,according to the tax assessors. In the local area, Franklin Countyis the exception and residents there must file every year, theysaid.

“Once homestead is established in Lawrence County, you don’thave to sign every year unless there has been a change,” Applewhitesaid.

There are several reasons which would cause a person to refile:change in marital status, the selling or purchasing of property,moving to a new location or becoming age 65 or 100 percent disabledin the past year, Applewhite and Jordan said.

Most homestead exemptions provide up to a $240 tax credit. Thoseage 65 or disabled can sign up for a special homestead exemptionand be completely exempt up to a $6,000 assessed value, which is a$60,000 market value on the homestead.

The special exemption is only for residential property. It doesnot cover commercial buildings and only the home is covered,regardless of the number of structures on the property.

“A lot of people feel that once they reach 65, they will be taxexempt,” Applewhite said. “That’s just not true. They are onlyexempt up to a point.”

The tax assessors added that to qualify for the specialexemption the person must have turned 65 or become disabled priorto Jan. 1 of the year they are applying for because the exemptioncovers the upcoming year and not the past year.

Actually applying for the exemption is easy.

“We do all the paperwork,” Applewhite said.

However, applicants must bring some things with them for thepaperwork to be completed.

Those items include a copy of the deed, social security numbersof the couple, tag numbers of vehicles and something which showsthe total cost of the home plus any down payment made on themortgage. For the special exemption, proof of birth date or aletter stating when the person became disabled is also needed,according to the tax assessors.

“The deed you qualify on must be dated on or by Dec. 31 andrecorded by Jan. 7 of the year on which you’re filing,” Jordansaid.

Applicants have until March 31 to qualify for homesteadexemption, but the tax assessors urged residents to come inearly.