Homestead Exemption applications taken

LISBON – Residents eligible for the property tax break automatically available to the elderly and disabled regardless of income need not wait until Jan. 1 to sign up.

Columbiana County Auditor Nancy Milliken announced this week she decided to to resume taking applications for the Homestead Exemption under the current terms for the rest of the year.

The decision is in response to recent action taken by the state legislature to reinstate an income-ceiling requirement for those applying for the Homestead Exemption, which is only available to the disabled and those 65 and older.

Until five years ago, applicants who earned more than $26,000 could not receive the tax break, which reduces the market value of a home by $25,000 for the purpose of determining property taxes. In 2008, the legislature eliminated the income restriction, meaning the disabled and anyone turning 65 could automatically receive the tax break just by applying, regardless of how much money they had.

In June, the legislature reinstated an income restriction starting next year. New applicants now cannot earn more than $30,000 year and receive the Homestead Exemption. Those currently receiving the exemption will continue to do so, regardless of income, however.

Milliken said those who turn 65 or become disabled this year can still apply to receive the exemption, regardless of their income, but the normal sign-up period for them to do so is Jan. 1, 2014, to June 2, 2014. Rather than wait until then, those people who become eligible can begin applying immediately rather than wait to Jan. 1.

“It’s a courtesy thing we’re trying to do to help people to file,” she said. “Since they’ve changed the law I think it’s only right we try to protect the people.”

Those who turn 65 in 2014 and beyond or become disabled will be subject to the $30,000 income test needed to receive the benefit.