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Don’t forget to turn in your homestead verification form

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About 6,000 residents receiving a deduction that lowers their property tax bill have one more month to verify that they still qualify for the benefit.

The deduction, which is called a homestead deduction, lets residents lower the assessed value of the property where they live by $45,000 or 60 percent, whichever is lower. That results in a lower property tax bill.

Nearly three years ago, the Johnson County Auditor’s Office began mailing verification forms to residents receiving the credit asking them to confirm that their home was the only property they were claiming. State law requires that owners of multiple properties receive only one homestead deduction.

The forms are due by Dec. 31. After the deadline, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will load them into an online database used to confirm that residents aren’t claiming the credit on multiple properties, Johnson County Auditor Jan Richhart said.

Her office began sending the pink- and rose-colored forms in 2010 to the 39,000 Johnson County residents claiming the credit and has received about 85 percent of them back, she said.

“I’m very proud of our taxpayers. They have done an excellent job of getting this back,” Richhart said.

Within the next two weeks, residents who haven’t returned the verification forms will get a reminder letter about the deadline.

If a property owner doesn’t return the form to the auditor’s office by the end of next month and doesn’t have a legitimate reason for missing the deadline, then they risk losing the credit. That means their property tax bills will rise, though residents can reapply for the credit in the future, Richhart said.

Some of the 6,000 forms likely are outstanding because they were sent to residents’ mortgage companies instead of their properties.

Richhart doesn’t know how many forms were sent to the mortgage companies. But if people have been receiving the homestead credit and didn’t receive the form, or if they aren’t sure if their form has been turned in, they need to contact the county auditor’s office so they can ensure the form is submitted by the deadline, Richhart said.

If the deadline passes and a resident has a legitimate reason for not having submitted the form, including having the form sent to the wrong address, then the auditor’s office will work with that person to help keep the credit, Richhart said.

About the homestead deduction

The deduction allows homeowners to use their primary residence to qualify for a reduction of either 60 percent of the property’s assessed value or $45,000, whichever is less. Residents also can get a reduction of up to an additional 35 percent of the remaining assessed value through a supplemental homestead deduction.

The homestead verification form:

What it is: A pink- or rose-colored form sent to residents receiving the homestead deduction.

What to do with it: Send it back to the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, 86 W. Court St., Franklin.

Questions: Anyone who isn’t sure whether they need to submit the form, who wants to confirm they’ve submitted the form or who hasn’t received the form needs to contact the auditor’s office at 346-4310

Deadline: Dec. 31

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Local Government Finance

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