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Tax break for seniors, disabled kicks in


Julie Carr Smyth
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS — A property tax break for seniors and disabled residents became law July 1, providing homestead exemptions to an estimated 775,000 Ohioans. Here are answers to some common questions about the program:
How does the tax relief work?
The program allows eligible residents to shield the first $25,000 of the market value of their home from property taxes.
Do manufactured homes count?
Who is eligible for the new tax break?
Senior citizen homeowners and all permanently and totally disabled homeowners, regardless of income. Eligible seniors must be at least 65 now or turn 65 in 2007, or be the surviving spouse aged 59 or older of a qualified homeowner.
What about homeowners who previously received a homestead exemption?
The 220,000 Ohioans previously eligible for a homestead exemption still are, along with 555,000 new recipients. The state has done away with the former income-based eligibility requirements, which excluded all seniors who made over $26,200 in 2006, in favor of a flat reduction.
What is the exemption worth?
It will vary depending on your community’s local property tax rate. The Ohio Department of Taxation estimates it will mean about $400 a year to the average newly qualified homeowner and has set up a searchable list of tax rates at its Web site.
Will the money come off my property tax bill automatically?
No. You must apply for the exemption through your county auditor’s office by Oct. 1 to make sure you get the tax break on your first applicable tax bill, which will be the one payable in 2008.
Can I file electronically?
No, a paper copy of the application bearing an applicant’s signature is needed.
How will I know if my application has been approved?
Your county treasurer will notify you and enclose a notice showing your tax reduction. 

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