Tardy homeowners face bigger tax bite

2012-11-13T20:45:00Z 2012-11-13T21:23:18Z Tardy homeowners face bigger tax biteBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
November 13, 2012 8:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Some 38,000 Lake and Porter county homeowners have only a few weeks left to avoid a large property tax increase in 2013 by completing their homestead verification forms.

Jenny Banks, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, reminds area residents the deadline is Dec. 31 to comply with a state law created to ensure ineligible property owners aren't abusing the tax credit system and increasing the burden on law-abiding taxpayers of supporting local government.

The credit is only available for an individual or married couple's primary residence, which is defined as the owners' permanent home. Vacation homes and rental properties are ineligible for the credit, which reduces a property's assessed value by as much as $45,000 in addition to a supplemental deduction.

The two county auditor's offices have been sending out pink one-page forms the last three years to all property owners. The owners must provide their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, driver's licenses or state-issued identification card number, passport or work visa and sign the form, certifying they are eligible for credit.

Lake Auditor Peggy Katona said about 30,000 Lake owners have yet to file their paperwork. Porter Auditor Robert Wichlinski said he is still waiting to hear from about 8,000.

Those who fail to respond can lose their credit and face a stiff tax increase when the new bills come out next year.

Although the verification program ends Dec. 31, Katona said Tuesday she doesn't want to punish those with legitimate reasons for filing late and will give property owners until the end of January to provide documents.

She said she cannot delay longer and still get tax bills out in time.

Wichlinski said Tuesday although the spirit of the law dictates the deletion of credits immediately in 2013, he will wait for directives from the state after Gov.-elect Mike Pence takes office next year. "Otherwise all our work could be for naught," he said.

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