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Homestead tax up for review

Senior citizens and a few others could get a larger homesteadexemption tax break under legislation being reviewed this week inJackson, an area lawmaker says.

Dist. 53 Rep. Bobby Moak is leading a special Ways and MeansCommittee project that is looking at increasing the specialhomestead exemption amount from $60,000 to $75,000. The move comesas counties are in the process of having completed or arecompleting property reappraisals.

“After reappraisal, some folks have seen their taxes go up,”Moak said, adding that the higher amount would help adjust for thereappraisal. “They’d still have an ‘X’ value on their home, butthey’d get a larger exemption.”

Under current special homestead exemption guidelines, seniorcitizens and the disabled are exempt from taxes on up to $60,000 inappraised value of their property.

Moak was planning a working meeting Tuesday with representativesof the state tax commission, city and county tax representatives tolook at the legislation.

“We expect that to be one of the major issues we tackle thisyear,” Moak said of the exemption increase.

The higher exemption amount, if approved, would take effectafter a county completes its reappraisal. Moak said he did not wantcounties to risk losing any money by having it take effect before areappraisal is done.

Moak expected the higher homestead exemption legislation to geta good bit of attention.

“A lot of people are interested in this, especially those whohad their taxes go up,” Moak said.

For some senior citizens, the effect of reappraisal was nothigher taxes, but paying taxes — period. City Tax Collector PatDuckworth believes the higher exemption would go a long way towardaddressing that situation.

“I think it would help a lot of our senior citizens who losttheir total exemption to reappraisal three years ago,” Duckworthsaid.

Duckworth said some senior citizens had homes that were valuedat less than $60,000, so they did not have to pay property taxes.However, the reappraisal pushed those values above $60,000, andsenior citizens therefore had to pay taxes.

“It was the first time for a lot of them since they turned 65,”Duckworth said.

Under statewide regulations, Lincoln County is in the process ofanother reappraisal.

Duckworth said senior citizens were among the hardest-hit duringthe previous reappraisal. She expected the higher exemption levelwould be greatly appreciated by the older age group.

“That would get a lot of them back in line to be totallyexempt,” Duckworth said.