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Homestead deduction forms must be submitted

Individuals and married couples may lose the Homestead deduction beginning in 2013 if the Homestead verification form is not completed and returned, according to a release from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
The pink forms will be sent with residents’ property tax bills this year, next year and in 2012, Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe said.
If a person’s Homestead information has not been updated since July 2009, it needs to be filled out and returned in the next three years.
‘The state is wanting to update their database, which will help catch Homestead credit fraud,’ Wolfe said. ‘If it is not filled out in the next three years, the state, not the county, says it will take away the credit. That’s a lot of money. They’re coming in here (auditor’s office) kind of upset. They don’t want to lose it.’
Wolfe said Homestead fraud can occur when a person owns multiple properties in different counties. She said that person cannot receive the benefit on both properties.
She also said husbands should put their wife’s name on the Homestead, because if the person listed for the benefit dies, the credit goes away. Wolfe said she has seen many widows come in that have their property tax bills go through the roof because the Homestead credit was gone.
‘It’s been pretty heartbreaking,’ she said.
Homestead fraud occurs when an individual or married couple receive the benefit of more than one Homestead deduction or claim the deduction on property that is not their primary residence. Homestead fraud causes taxpayers who follow the law to pay more money.
Beginning in 2010, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1344-2009 requires the tax statement (TS-1) to include a form that allows taxpayers to verify their residency and eligibility for the Homestead deduction. Each individual (and his or her spouse, if any) claiming the Homestead deduction also is required to provide the last five digits of his or her Social Security number and driver’s license number. This information will be used to populate a secure Homestead database, which will be used by county auditors to track Homesteads statewide and prevent fraud. This will help reduce taxes for all by ensuring that everyone shares equally in the property tax burden.
Each individual or married couple currently claiming the Homestead deduction will receive the form (some counties may choose to mail the form to each taxpayer, even those not claiming the Homestead deduction).
The pink form will be included with tax bills.
The verification form will be mailed with 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax bills and must be completed at least once by Jan. 1, 2013.
‘It’s like a census of the homesteads,’ Wolfe said.
Individuals or married couples claiming the Homestead deduction must complete the form and return it to the county per the instruction included on the form. The form is not required to be returned in person. A homestead is defined as a dwelling used as an individual’s primary residence, one garage and up to one acre of immediately surrounding land. A primary residence is an individual’s true, fixed, permanent home to which the individual has the intention of returning after an absence.
The Homestead standard deduction reduces the taxable assessed value of the homestead portion of a property by the lesser of 60 percent or $45,000. Personal property mobile homes are limited to 50 percent of the home’s value in deductions. Individuals and married couples are limited to one Homestead deduction.
Those receiving the standard deduction automatically receive the supplemental Homestead deduction, the 1-percent circuit breaker cap and any state or local Homestead credits.
Additional information regarding the Homestead and other property tax deductions is available at www.in.gov.dlgf/2344.htm or by calling the Harrison County Auditor’s Office (738-8241).

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