The issue: The homestead verification form.
Our view: If you receive one with your property tax statement, fill it out and promptly return it.
If your lawn grows 5 inches between mowings, you’re probably a procrastinator.
Don’t worry. There are thousands like you here in Howard County – at least 5,900, county Auditor Ann Wells estimates.
Two years ago, Wells’ office mailed homestead verification forms to every homeowner in Howard County. The state Department of Local Government Finance, at the behest of the Legislature, ordered all county auditors to ensure homeowners were claiming only one homestead property tax credit in the U.S.
Two months after that initial mailing, fewer than 50 percent of homeowners had filled out and filed the state-mandated paperwork. A quarter of those filings were incomplete.
Beginning Oct. 7, Wells’ staff will start removing homestead credits from those homeowners who’ve failed to verify their tax status with the county. Spring tax statements were mailed before the Easter holiday, and Wells told us Tuesday 25 percent of those statements include yet another homestead verification form for completion.
If you received a pink-colored form with your property tax statement, fill it out and return it to the auditor’s office. Put it at the top of your to-do list.
A homeowner’s homestead credit often is the most valuable tax deduction a middle-class homeowner receives. It reduces the taxable assessment of your home by 60 percent or $45,000, whichever is less.
If you did not receive the pink form in your tax statement, you’ve properly filled out one of the previous mailings, Wells told us Tuesday. You’re among the estimated 18,100 in Howard County who have.
If you did receive a pink form, don’t treat it as yet another late fee at the library. Fill it out and file it with the auditor’s office.
This is one task your family can’t afford for you to put off.