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Little time left for homestead deduction

– Time is running out for about 20,000 Allen County residents who have yet to verify their homestead deductions.

Residents have had three years to verify homestead information to receive the credits. Pink reminders for verification have been included with each tax bill since 2010. The final deadline is Dec. 31.

But many people pay their taxes through a mortgage escrow account and probably haven’t even opened their tax bills, Allen County Auditor Tera Klutz said.

“A large percentage of those who have still not verified information is probably because they have not seen the notices,” she said.

About 97,000 homestead deductions are filed in Allen County, Klutz said.

The verification is meant to prevent some homeowners from claiming multiple homesteads and receiving credits they are not entitled to, Klutz said.

In Indiana, a homestead is a dwelling used as a person’s primary residence, one garage and up to one acre of immediately surrounding land, and a primary residence is a person’s true, fixed, permanent home. Each person and married couples are limited to one homestead deduction.

County officials will remove the deductions in early January on any homeowners who have not verified their information.

“For many, that means their property taxes will double in 2013,” Klutz said.

Those who receive a rude awakening when they receive their spring tax bills can still get the credit, but it may be a more stressful experience than the simple verification that can be done at this time, either online or in the auditor’s office.

“They would have to come to the auditor’s office, prove their eligibility and then the homestead deduction would be reinstated,” Klutz said.