Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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Opinion

October 31, 2012

File your pink form

Kokomo — THE ISSUE: The homestead verification form.

OUR VIEW: If you receive another in the mail, 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 3,000, county Auditor Ann Wells says.

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.

Spring and fall tax statements were mailed before this year’s Easter holiday, and Wells told us then that 25 percent of the statements included yet another homestead verification form for completion.

Wells’ staff soon will start removing homestead credits from those homeowners who’ve failed to verify their tax status with the county these past two years. But beginning Friday, they’ll mail one last form to the 13 percent of Howard County homeowners who’ve ignored the earlier mailings.

If you receive a pink-colored form from the Howard County Auditor’s Office, fill it out and return it. 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 a pink form from the auditor’s office, you’ve properly filled out one of the previous mailings, Wells tells us. You’re among the estimated 20,000 in Howard County who have.

If you do 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.

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