As a homeowner living in a primary residence, you may be entitled to a homestead exemption depending on what state you live in. If you have a disability or are an active member or veteran of the military, you may also be eligible for a homestead exemption. While the requirements vary from state to state, most have similar rules regarding reapplying for homestead status and exemption.
Homestead exemption offers tax relief to you as a qualifying homeowner if you occupy your home and meet your state's additional requirements. A homestead exemption lets you exempt a portion of the fair market value of your primary residence thus reducing your tax bill. The exemption amount varies from state to state and may include additional exemptions based on age, income, disability, military status or first responder service.
The first time you apply for homestead exemption you may be required to make a physical trip to your local assessor's office with supporting documentation. If you are unable to file on behalf of yourself, most states will allow you to designate a representative to file on your behalf. After qualifying the first time, you typically don't have to reapply yearly for your homestead exemption unless your status changes.
State requirements vary, but generally, you will be required to provide your birth certificate or driver's license if age is a qualifying exemption status. Your state may also use your driver's license and automobile insurance to verify your primary residence since this is generally a requirement for homestead status. To reduce fraud, states like Texas have tightened their qualifications and require your vehicle registration and driver's license to match the address of the residence you're seeking exemption status for.
As a widow or surviving spouse, you won't usually have to reapply to keep your exemption status. Moving out of your primary residence, losing your disability status or remarrying, however, may trigger losing it. Most states require you to report these changes in the tax year they occur. By reapplying, your state will typically allow you to move or port your homestead exemption to a new primary residence.
Monica Dillon has more than 10 years experience in real estate sales, marketing, investing and appraising. She specializes in energy efficiency building practices and renewable energy. Dillon has been syndicated by the National Newspaper Publisher's Association. Her work has also appeared in the "Journal Of Progressive Human Services."