Lake County Auditor John Petalas

Lake County Auditor John Petalas behind the counter of his office's new customer service area.

A state official said Friday that Lake County Auditor John Petalas cannot extend the filing period for homestead and mortgage deductions beyond the end of this year.

Jenny Banks, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, said Friday the auditor's announcement Thursday of an extension to Jan. 5 was in error.

Banks said taxpayers must have completed and signed their applications for mortgage and homestead deductions this week for their applications to be honored by the state for the upcoming property tax cycle.

Banks said if taxpayers have completed and signed their application forms by Dec. 31 and mailed them to the auditor's office, the state will give the auditor until Jan. 5 to process them so they can be honored for the next tax cycle.

Petalas said that is a change from previous years when the state allowed extensions when the end of the year fell on a weekend as it does this time.

He said taxpayers can still file their application for a deduction online before Jan. 1 by going on the county's website at lakecountyin.org, clicking on the "Online Services" link and clicking on the "Property Tax Deduction Filing" link and filling out the electronic form provided.

The county auditor's office at 2293 N. Main St. in Crown Point is closed for the New Year's holiday, but will reopen Tuesday, Jan. 2.

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Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.