Tax exemption helps residents save money

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PVA says homestead exemption can save more than $300 a year

By Calen McKinney

Those looking to save some money on their tax bills this year could be in luck.

Taylor County's PVA says there are several ways to potentially save money on bills, one being the state's Homestead Exemption.

Those age 65 and older can apply for the exemption, which eliminates part of the assessed property value on which they will pay taxes.

Taylor County PVA Chad Shively said the exemption was created in 1972 and written into the Kentucky Constitution.

Kentucky legislators meet to decide just how much those who receive the exemption can expect to see exempted from the taxable value of their homes.

"Every two years they will increase the amount," Shively said.

"It was enacted basically to help lower the tax burden for seniors and the disabled."

He said the rate began at $6,500 and has increased to stand at $36,000 now. The rate typically increases by $1,000 to $2,000 each time it is adjusted.

For example, he said, if a person has a home assessed at being worth $100,000, as of now, $36,000 would be subtracted from that before the homeowner's property tax bill is calculated.

At $64,000, he said, the tax bill for that property would be about $540 instead of the $845 amount for someone who has a $100,000 home and isn't eligible to receive the exemption.

Most of those who receive the exemption, Shively said, save between $300 and $390 a year.

Shively said those eligible to receive the exemption are those age 65 and older and those who have received disability benefits for a full calendar year. There is an entirely different set of criteria for a person to receive disability. The PVA office is not involved in determining that eligibility, though Shively said a person does not have to be 65 to be eligible for that benefit.

To receive the homestead exemption, Shively said, a person must own and occupy the property considered. The home must be listed as the person's primary residence.

Only one exemption is allowed per person, he said, as a person can only have one primary residence. For spouses, he said, as long as one of the two listed as the owner of the property is 65, both will receive the benefit.

After a person turns 65, Shively said, residents only have to apply for the exemption once. It will be given each year forward, he said.

"They will continue to receive that benefit."

Those who receive the exemption because they are disabled, he said, will stop receiving the benefit if they are determined no longer eligible to receive disability payments. He said they will continue to receive the benefit as long as they receive disability.

"That one time application will suffice," he said.

Shively said it is up to residents to file for the exemption. He said it isn't automatically given when a person turns 65.

"But there's still some people that don't know about the homestead exemption," he said. "They could save quite a bit of money when their county taxes come due."

County tax bills are mailed to residents in late September or early October. Discounts are offered if the bill is paid within certain time limits.

And even though this year's tax roll has been finalized, Shively said, it's not too late for someone to apply for the homestead exemption.

If someone applies now, he said, the PVA office can exonerate their tax bill and recalculate it after the exemption is approved.

Residents can apply for the exemption at any time, he said.

And those who are older than 65 but haven't yet applied for the exemption can still do so. Shively said those residents can get a refund on tax bills they paid for the previous two years.

So, he said, someone who is now 67 can apply for the exemption and receive it this year and get a rebate for the past two years.

Those who are receiving the exemption because they are disabled, Shively said, can't receive a refund for previous years.

In Taylor County last year, he said, the exemption saved residents from paying taxes on more than $89 million of assessed value. He said residents saw more than $758,000 of actual savings on their tax bills.

"That's money they don't have to pay," he said.

Statewide, he said, in 2010, residents didn't have to pay taxes on more than $12.5 billion and actually saved more than $106 million because of the exemption.

Shively said people come to his office and ask about the exemption off and on throughout the year. More people come after tax bills are mailed.

"There's a lot whenever they actually get their bill," he said.

Shively will be at Kroger in Green River Plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 7, and at Kroger on Broadway on Wednesday, Sept. 4, to talk with residents about the exemption and the PVA office.

He said his office personnel are also available to answer questions about the exemption. Shively's office is located at the Taylor County Courthouse and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

For more information, call 465-5811 or visit the PVA office's website at www.qpublic.net/ky/taylor/index.html.

Vehicle Tax Bills

For those looking to save money on vehicle tax bills, Shively said the PVA office might be also able to help there.

When vehicle tax bills are calculated, he said, a resident pays taxes based on the vehicle they owned on Jan. 1.

The value of vehicles is calculated using NADA trade-in figures, he said. Values are set based on the make, model and year of the vehicle, not the condition.

But if a resident questions the NADA value of their vehicle, Shively said, PVA office staff members can determine if the value should be lowered based on damage, high mileage or mechanical issues.

Shively said it's important to remember the value must be calculated using the condition of the vehicle on Jan. 1.

Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney said customers come into his office and ask about the value of their vehicles almost daily.

He said some people don't realize that even if they trade a vehicle, they will have to pay taxes on it if they owned it Jan. 1.

Vehicle tax bills are mailed in the middle of the month before a person's birth month.

Hospital Tax Bills

Another way residents can save money is through tax bills they pay to Taylor Regional Hospital.

Those who use TRH for their medical services can receive the amount of hospital taxes they pay - both on real estate and personal property - as a rebate on their hospital bills.

TRH CEO Jane Wheatley has said hospital staff makes sure patients know about the rebate, and many have used it to pay for their entire bill.

In all, using hospital taxes as rebates on hospital bills saves Taylor County residents hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, residents saved $240,708.55. This past fiscal year, they saved $238,924.59.

Shively said a hospital offering that benefit is rare and he believes TRH might be one of very few in the country to do so.

"There's still a lot of people that don't know about that," he said.