Barborak fights Homestead Exemption elimination

LISBON – State Rep. Nick Barborak wants to stop reinstatement of an income requirement needed to qualify for an automatic property tax break available to the disabled or anyone once they turn 65.

Barborak, D-Columbiana, and state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, are sponsoring separate bills for introduction in their respective chambers to prevent elimination of the Homestead Exemption for people whose annual income exceeds $30,000 starting next year.

The income requirement was eliminated in 2008, entitling all property owners in Ohio to the tax break when they turned 65 or if they were disabled. The state legislature recently reinstated the income requirement, but Barborak’s bill seeks to prevent that from happening.

“This amounts to a tax increase on many of our struggling seniors who are trying to get by on a fixed income. The legislation would restore these breaks to all of Ohio’s seniors at a time when they will need it most,” Barborak said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The Homestead Exemption tax break is available to property owners once they turn 65 or if they are disabled. Prior to 2008, applicants could not earn above a certain amount, which was $26,000 at the time, but the state legislature eliminated the income requirement. This year, the legislature reinstated the income requirement starting in 2014 and setting the figure at $30,000.

The Homestead Exemption exempts from taxation the first $25,000 of the market value of your property and saves the property owner $300 to $400 per year on average.

Barborak said citizens are upset with the decision to reinstate income requirement and other changes in the state budget approved by the Republican-controlled legislature. He voted against the budget.

“This tax increase on our seniors was inserted in the budget under the dark of night, with no opportunity for citizens and effected groups to weigh in. It should have been vetted and debated out in the open with input from Ohio taxpayers, but it wasn’t,” he said.

Barborak contends that reinstatement of the income requirement was unnecessary since the state is expected to have a nearly $2 billion budget surplus.