The change will allow more Ohioans to apply for the exemption.
By MARC KOVAC
COLUMBUS — All homeowners age 65 and older can contact their county auditors to sign up for an expanded property tax break, implemented as part of the state’s biennial budget.
The widened Homestead Exemption will save eligible Ohioans, on average, about $400 a year, said John Kohlstrand, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation.
“We’ve had quite a few phone calls here at taxation” about the expanded exemption, he said. “I am hearing that a lot of county auditors are getting a lot of phone calls.”
Under prior law, the exemption was based on income and other eligibility requirements, with a formula used to determine actual tax savings.
Under the new provisions included in the state’s two-year operating budget, signed last month by Gov. Ted Strickland, the tax cut now is open to all seniors 65 and older or who will turn 65 this year.
Certified totally or permanently disabled residents as of Jan. 1 of this year, or surviving spouses of qualified homeowners who were at least 59 when their spouse died, also are eligible, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.
The change means about 775,000 Ohioans now qualify, compared with 220,000 under the old formula, the taxation department says.
The exemption reduces the market value of homeowners’ primary residences by $25,000. Total savings will vary by community, based on current tax rates.
For example, the owner of a median-priced house ($41,000) in the Youngstown City School District would save about $407. A comparable home in the Warren City School District (valued at $63,000) would save about $436, according to the taxation department.
Homeowners must apply to their county auditors by Oct. 1 for the exemption to apply to their first property tax bills in 2008.
Additional information is available online at tax.ohio.gov. The site includes a long “frequently asked questions” section.