I am really looking forward to the Christmas holidays, and I hope you are too. The best part of the holiday season for me is not the gifts or the food, but being able to spend time with my family. I especially enjoy visiting with my grandchildren, who live close enough to Fort Wayne to come home at Christmas and have some fun with “Grandpa” and “Grandma.”
The Holiday season can become so busy, it is easy to get caught up in the celebrating and forget some of the things that need to be done before the end of the year. I was reminded of this recently when I looked at the County’s website and saw information about filing for property tax exemptions.
I know property taxes are not something we want to think about at Christmas. However, we can save ourselves money and headaches by taking care of business now. Homeowners only have until Friday, December 31, to file their property tax exemptions at the Allen County Auditor’s Office for taxes payable in 2011.
The Wayne Township Trustee’s Office helps those in need with shelter assistance. That includes helping eligible persons with their mortgage payments, as well as their rent. But the amount we can pay is limited by our budget and decreasing tax revenue.
Our monthly shelter allotments are a set amount based on the size of the housing unit and the size of the household. And, in most cases, we can pay this amount for just three months, after which the payments decrease significantly. This is why our homeowner clients must do everything they can to help themselves by making sure they are receiving the property tax exemptions they deserve.
It is especially important for eligible persons over 65-years-old to make sure they have filed for their Over 65 Assessed Value Deduction and their Over 65 Circuit Breaker Credit. The Assessed Value Deduction could result in older homeowners having almost $12,500 deducted from the gross assessed value of their home. The Over 65 Circuit Breaker limits the increase in tax bills to two percent a year.
To be eligible for the Assessed Value Deduction, the homeowners’ adjusted gross income cannot be more than $25,000 and the gross assessed value of the home cannot be more than $182,430. The State will take into consideration the income of both husband and wife when looking at adjusted gross income even if the home is titled to only one of them.
The eligibility requirements for the Over 65 Circuit Breaker Credit are different from the Assessed Value Deduction, making it easy to get confused. The Circuit Breaker Credit eligibility requirements include having an adjusted gross income of under $30,000 for an individual and under $40,000 for a married couple. The assessed value of the home must be less than $160,000 and the home must have been qualified in the previous year to receive the Homestead Deduction.
Most taxpayers are eligible for a Homestead Deduction, which will lower your tax bill considerably. A Homestead Deduction can be taken for your primary residence. Most of us already have this deduction, which also must be filed by the end of the year.
If you already are receiving these property tax exemptions, you do not have to file again unless you move. If are not sure you have filed for your exemptions, you can check with the County Auditor either on the County’s website at www.allencounty.us or call the Auditor’s Office at 449-7241.
I wish you happy holidays and hope you don’t have to spend too much time taking care of your end of the year business.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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