Residents who put off or forgot to verify that they qualify for a deduction lowering their property tax bill by this week’s deadline have caught a break: They have until Monday to refile a homestead deduction form.
But be prepared to stand in line at the county auditor’s office.
Forms verifying that residents qualified for the homestead deduction, which lower the assessed value of the property where they live by $45,000 or 60 percent, whichever is less, were due to the auditor’s office by New Year’s Eve. Residents could take the form to the auditor or mail it, but the forms needed to be postmarked by Dec. 31.
Anyone who was receiving the credit but didn’t return the form can still receive the deduction by filing a new homestead deduction by Monday, first deputy auditor Amy Thompson said.
Residents who file a new homestead deduction must do so at the auditor’s office in the courthouse annex, 86 W. Court St., Franklin, and that may mean waiting in line for up to 90 minutes. That’s because for the past month the office has been filled with visits and calls from residents who either wanted to confirm their deduction form had been received or who were confusing their homestead deduction with a mortgage deduction, Thompson said.
“It’s just very hectic,” she said.
The auditor’s office began mailing the verification forms, which ask residents to confirm that the property they’re receiving the deduction for is their primary residence, three years ago. By the end of November all but about 6,000 of the 39,000 homeowners claiming the credit had returned forms.
As the forms were returned and as residents’ deductions were verified, they were entered into an Indiana Department of Local Government Finance database, which is used to ensure residents aren’t claiming the deduction on more than one property. Thompson said it could take up to a month for all of the Johnson County residents currently receiving the deduction to be added to the database.
Thompson said continual media coverage about the deadline prompted more people to contact the office to confirm their form was received. Others confused the homestead deduction with a mortgage deduction.
Residents who refinanced their homes before March 1, 2012, needed to file a mortgage deduction with the auditor before the end of last month.
But anyone who refinanced after March 1 has until December 2013 to file the deduction, Johnson County Auditor Jan Richhart said.
An unknown number of forms were mailed to residents’ mortgage companies instead of the residents, but Thompson said new forms were sent to those properties.
If after all deadlines have passed a resident has a legitimate reason for not having submitted their form, including having the form sent to the wrong address, then the auditor’s office will work with that person to help them keep the credit, Richhart said.