Declaring your primary residence as your homestead allows you to receive tax exemptions each year through your local county assessor. Homestead tax exemption effectively shelters a portion of your home's value from tax assessments and reduces your yearly property taxes. Applying for homestead exempt, while straightforward, requires documentation verifying your qualifying status. Each state has specific rules and offers different types of exemptions including a general, disability, senior citizen or veterans exemption. In some states, only senior citizens are eligible, while in others, all homeowners may participate.
Get homestead exemption requirements and an exemption application form from your county assessor's office or visit its website. Requirements vary, but in general, if you live in your home, have a disability or you're a senior citizen or the surviving spouse of an eligible homesteader, you may be eligible to declare your primary residence as exempt. Disabled veterans may also be eligible for additional exemptions.
Gather the documents required by your county assessor to verify your homestead eligibility. This may include a driver's license or state-issued identification, proof of disability from a certifying organization or an optometrist if you're legally blind, a utility bill or, in some cases, a vehicle registration. If you don't own a vehicle, your assessor's office may require you to submit an affidavit stating such.
Attach your documentation to the homestead exemption form. You will have to either mail it or submit it in person to the assessor's office. In some cases, if you are not able to file in person, you may elect a representative to submit the form on your behalf.
Wait for confirmation from the assessor's office. You will receive a form approving your exemption or a notice stating why you were denied. You will have at least 30 days to provide the additional information or request an extension in good faith.
You won't have to requalify for exemption status each year, in most cases, unless your status changes.
Most states require you to reside in the home by January 1 in order to qualify for the following tax year unless you're turning 65.
Some states will allow you to keep your homestead exemption if you temporarily move out of your primary home and intend to return and don't declare another primary residence.
In most cases, homestead exemption will not protect you from a tax foreclosure sale of your home for delinquent taxes.
If you move or rent out home, you may lose the exemption or have to reapply. Check with your assessor's office for specific rules.
States are taking additional steps to reduce homeowner fraud such as claiming more than one property for homestead exemption. Be prepared to provide any documentation that would verify your relationship with the house if your assessor's office requests additional information.
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