Auditor hopes to expand homestead exemptions


Union County Auditor Andrea Weaver is supporting legislation that would improve the state’s homestead exemption law and could mean a tax savings for local seniors.
Ohio’s homestead laws allow low-income senior citizens and disabled veterans to declare up to $25,000 worth of their property as a homestead and exempted from property taxes. For example, a qualifying homeowner, with a home valued at $100,000, may deduct up to $25,000 as a homestead, meaning they would only need to pay property tax on $75,000 worth of the property.
The problem, Weaver explained in a release, is that Ohio’s Homestead Exemption does not adjust for inflation.
“It has remained the same dollar amount for many years,” Weaver wrote.
Recently, Representative Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) introduced legislation that would require the homestead exemption amount to be adjusted each year for inflation. This legislation is designed to increase the amount of the Homestead Exemption every year by the same rate of inflation used to calculate the income eligibility of the Homestead Exemption.
“I have seen first-hand the relief the Homestead Exemption provides for senior citizens and disabled veteran homeowners,” Weaver wrote. “This bill will provide additional assistance, is easy to administer and would have no impact on school or other local government funding.”
The Legislative Committee of the County Auditors’ Association of Ohio has also voted to support the legislation.
In Ohio, more than 800,000 homeowners take advantage of the homestead exemption each year. These homeowners also save more than $500 in property taxes each year through the homestead exemption.
Officials have said the adjustment would be relatively small, but for those living on a fixed income, the benefit could be significant.
“Most people who are eligible for the homestead exemption here in Ohio are homeowners who are on a fixed income. One of the biggest enemies of people who are on a fixed income is inflation,” said Stephens, a former Lawrence County auditor and commissioner. “This bill will help them fight the impact of inflation on their property taxes.”
Stephens says his bill would not restore the homestead exemption for all seniors.
Historically, the exemption had been reserved for those seniors with the lowest incomes. In 2007, then-Gov. Ted Strickland expanded the homestead exemption to all seniors, regardless of their income. In 2013, Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a law that reverted back to using an income standard to determine who would be eligible to get the tax break. Even so, all seniors, regardless of income, who took advantage of the break up to that point were grandfathered into the program.
Stephens’ plan does not lower the income threshold for being able to get the exemption.

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