By Ken de la Bastide
Residential property owners have until Dec. 31 to file a verification form with the Howard County Auditor’s office to continue to receive the Homestead credit.
The intent of the form that has been distributed for several years was to discover property owners falsely receiving more than one homestead credit, a spokeswoman with the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance said.
Under state law, a property owner with an ineligible homestead credit deduction can be required to pay back taxes for three years plus a 10 percent penalty. The penalty revenue goes to the state.
Determining a person’s primary residence, which would be eligible for a homestead credit, is based on several factors, including the state that issued the person’s driver’s license, where they vote and where federal income tax returns are filed.
If the required form is not submitted by Jan. 1, all the deductions are removed, said Ann Wells, Howard County auditor.
Wells said as of Thursday there have been 21,435 forms returned to her office and 1,905 that still need to be submitted.
To date the county has found 203 property owners that were claiming more than one Homestead Credit, she said.
The additional homestead deductions can be filed in another Indiana county or another state. By law a person is eligible for a single homestead deduction.
The county has collected $549,129 in past due property taxes that were owed by people claiming more than one Homestead Credit and another $93,000 remains to be collected, Wells said.
The funds go into the Auditor’s Ineligible Homestead fund and can be used for anything that benefits the office, she said.
Wells said another 41 properties that had been eligible for a Homestead Credit are being removed from the list because the properties are now vacant.