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News Release

May 23, 2000  -  Columbus, Ohio  -  Keeping an Even Break

Homestead Credit now Indexed for Inflation
Deadline for applying June 5th

A change to Ohio's homestead property tax credit program this year has added, for the first time, an 'inflation adjustment' to the system. It protects those eligible from being penalized or disqualified because they received a moderate increase in income.

The inflation adjustment, determined annually by Ohio Tax Commissioner Tom Zaino, boosts the eligible income limit by $300 to $23,300. Last year, the income limit was bumped up from $20,800 to $23,000, the first adjustment in five years. That made an estimated 41,000 Ohioans eligible to take the credit. Both indexing and the higher income limit are the result of legislation approved by the General Assembly last year.

The homestead exemption is offered to lower-income homeowners who are 65 or older, or who are permanently and totally disabled. It is also available to surviving spouses, 59 or older, whose deceased spouse had received the exemption.

Tax Commissioner Zaino is encouraging older or disabled homeowners to check with their County Auditor's office to see if they qualify under the new guidelines. "If 'every little bit helps,' then this program helps a lot. For people on low or fixed incomes, the homestead exemption can save them a considerable amount of money. The changes have made the program better and more people eligible. It's worth checking out."

The most recent statistics available, from tax year (TY) 1997, showed more than 242,000 homeowners qualifying for the exemption. On average, their property taxes were reduced $275 a year. The State of Ohio reimburses local governments for the amount of the cuts. Payments to local governments exceeded $66 million in TY 1997.

The deadline for applying is June 5th. Applications are available at all County Auditor offices. Current participants need not reapply unless they are reporting changes in their income.

(For more information contact Gary Gudmundson, Communications Director, Ohio Department of Taxation at 614/644-6903.)