As the New Year began, property owners around Clark County found greetings from the Treasurer in the form of their annual tax bill. This year for the first time in a number of years, this piece of mail was opened in anticipation of seeing how the property revaluation process completed by County Auditor John Federer’s office would affect the bill.
In 2013 the 725 “neighborhoods” in the county were narrowed down to slightly over 500 and the process for analyzing the data collected for the property cards for the 66,000 parcels in the county was completed. Information sheets were mailed to every property owner in the county back in September however the impact on the tax bill would not be known until now as the State of Ohio does not set the tax rate until December.
Homeowners around the county are finding in some cases their tax bill has actually decreased anywhere from tens of dollars to a few hundred dollars while others are looking at significant increases. In a phone interview with Mr. Federer, he explained that when visits were made to each parcel in the county, the age of the structure, condition, square footage and material used for construction was noted. No interior visits were conducted so if the property card indicated a finished basement, that did not change on the property card. The appraised value was determined using data that was collected from three years of property sales from 2010, 2011 and 2012. Homes that were not sold during this time were reviewed for the “most probable” price that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller in an “open market”.
In the case of farmland, some local farmers have indicated that their tax bill has increased by 100 percent. The Enon Eagle asked Federer to explain how agricultural land differs from residential property. According to Federer the Department of Agriculture determines the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) of the land. The value is driven by the soil type, market price for the commodity and interest rates. There can be a number of different soil types on one parcel. Also taken into consideration is whether the land is pasture, woodland or tillable soil.
Property owners have until March 31, 2014 to file a dispute on the property value with the auditor’s office. The dispute must include documentation to prove the justification for the dispute. It cannot be for example, my neighbor’s house is worth xyz and mine should be the same. You can review your property data on the auditor’s web site at http://www.clarkcountyauditor.org/
Another change that taxpayers need to be aware of is the Homestead Exemption enjoyed by those who are disabled or age 65 and over. This exemption has allowed those property owners to enjoy a sizeable reduction in property taxes.
Changes to the law passed in the summer of 2013 will require anyone turning 65 after January 1, 2014 to meet an income test to qualify for the exemption. Federer explained that the property owner will now need to prove income of $30,500 or less. It should be noted that Ohio adjusted gross income does not include Social Security, certain pensions or interest income.
If you turned 65 prior to January 1, 2014 and have not applied for the exemption, you have until June 2 of this year to do so. You will not need to provide proof of income. Property owners currently receiving the exemption or turned 65 before the January 1 deadline will be “grandfathered” in. You must apply to receive the exemption it is not automatically added to your property information.
The exemption is portable. If you sell your home and buy a different one, you will maintain the exemption. Property owners can file for both types of the exemption with the county auditor. Those turning 65 or becoming disabled after January 1 of this year will need to provide proof of Ohio adjusted gross income of $30,500 or less as part of the application.
Reports state that the law was changed because the State of Ohio has been picking up the portion of property tax not paid by the property owner. In 2006 when the exemption was based on income, the cost was around $70 million. Last year Ohio saw that amount increase to over $400 million with a projection to see even higher costs in the future. With the income requirement reinstated, the state expects to see double digit savings by 2016 and beyond.