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December 17, 2012

Homeowners face homestead deadline

Forgetting to fill out the form will cost homeowners $450 extra annually on property taxes

Hoosier homeowners have a nearing deadline to apply for a homestead exemption.

Cass County Auditor Van Ide said by missing the Dec. 31 deadline, homeowners’ property taxes will increase by $450. She said they will lose the exemption for a year and they will have to re-file.

Ide said it has been a three-year process. She said pink forms were sent out to homeowners for the first time with tax information in 2010 and applying is as simple as filling one out.

Ide said the first year everyone got one and the second year only people who didn’t return them received them and the same thing happened in the third year.

“This is something required by the state of Indiana,” Ide said. “The re-certification to the homestead is allowing the state to look for fraud.”

Hoosiers can only claim the homestead deduction on one property and it has to be the primary residence, Ide said.

A state law that started when the forms were sent out in 2010 makes filling out the verification form mandatory to get the homestead deduction.

Ide said the form asks for the last five digits of a drivers license and the last five digits of the social security number.

“The state doesn’t want people receiving the $45,000 deduction if they are attempting fraud,” Ide said. “The state will be sorting through the applications and when it kicks out two of the same social security cards it means they are trying to get two homestead exemptions.”

Ide said she still has people coming into her office to fill them out.

“This has been ongoing for three years and now it’s crunch time,” Ide said. “Applications have to be file stamped by Dec. 31.”

People wanting to fill out the application can go online or go into the auditor’s office. Ide strongly suggested people read it carefully if they fill it out online, “because it’s tricky to read,” she said.

Residents can also call the auditor’s office and find out if they filled one out three years ago.

“A lot of times people forget if they filled it out,” Ide said. “If they call to confirm we received it, I won’t be able to tell them if they turned it in the last three weeks because we haven’t got a chance to go through them all.”

Ide said the pink paper would be easier and clearer to fill out than one online version.

“The state is requiring people fill out the last five digits and they aren’t used to that,” Ide said. “If they don’t get the paper filled out, they will lose it for a year and will have to re-file.”

Ide said their taxes will just about double if they don’t have the exemption.

Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or amie.sites@pharostribune.com.

Don’t forget to file for homestead exemption

To find out if you already applied, call the Cass County auditor’s office at 574-753-7720

Apply online or get an application at the Cass County auditor’s office, 200 Court Park, Logansport.

Applications must be file stamped by Dec. 31

www.co.cass.in.us/dav/auditor/auditor.htmlCass

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