By JOY HAMPTON
It’s that time again. Time to save on property taxes.
Rogers County Assessor Melissa Anderson said her office will meet with taxpayers to file for the 2008 tax year savings at several area locations including Catoosa City Hall, Stimson Real Estate in Foyil, Oologah City Hall, Talala Grocery, Inola City Hall and Chelsea Gas Authority.
Proof of 2007 income is required, including social security and medicare.
Those who have recently purchased property or have never filed for a Homestead Exemption may do so before March 15. According to the assessor’s office, a Homestead Exemption will save $80-$100 a year on taxes.
Each April, new homeowners get a letter Anderson calls a “change of value notice.”
Those who have recently purchased a home may be surprised to find they are paying more than the previous owners. According to Anderson, most taxpayer protests are a result of not understanding why taxes increase when a sale occurs.
A sample property purchase in 2006 in Inola demonstrates the increase that can occur on property taxes following a sale.
The previous owner had paid a little over $50 in ad valorem taxes each year. This figure did not reflect future taxes on the home, however.
WHY PROPERTY TAXES INCREASE AFTER SALE
Property taxes are capped, meaning that they can only be raised up to 5-percent each year.
This increase is not automatic. Assessment is based on “fair market value” and the 5-percent increase will be added every year until taxes match the rising value of real estate. Property that decreases or stays the same will not be subject to the increase.
When property has been in the possession of the same owner over a period of time, the tax cap may prevent tax increases from matching the rising value of the real estate. When a sale occurs, the cap comes off and the Assessor must bring the property to full market value.
A senior freeze may keep taxes low.
A senior freeze on taxes has to be filed between Jan. 1 and March 15 with proof of income. The head of household or spouse must be 65 years old with gross household earnings no more than $52,500 in 2007.
This freeze is “automatically carried over to the next year.”
In the Inola example, a senior freeze was in effect. The new owner did not qualify for a senior freeze, and paid more tax than the previous owner.
Double Homestead Exemption
For those whose gross household earnings are below $20,000.
There is no age limit on double homesteads but for someone 65 or older the exemption is “automatically carried over each year like a regular homestead exemption.”
In the case study, the previous occupant of the property had lived in the residence for 20 years with the cap in effect and had qualified for a senior freeze and double homestead.
Sale of the property meant the cap came off, no senior freeze would be in effect since the new owner is under 65, and the double homestead no longer applied due to income level.
The taxes will go up
How much tax will be owed?
Property taxes vary by city and fire district.
In a case study, the property is located in Inola which has a rate of 93.689 mill (millage) which means taxes will be levied on this property at a rate close to $100 per $1,000 value. So if the home and lot are appraised at a value of $40,000, close to $400 (93.689 x $40,000 = approximately $376) in property taxes will be owed.
Property value is not determined by the purchase price of real estate, but that may be an indicator.
If the new owner overpaid or underpaid the property, it does not follow that the taxes will reflect the sale price.
Appraisers from the assessor’s office do a market analysis of adjacent and “like properties” to determine what value to place on a particular piece of real estate.
There is hope in sight. The Homestead Exemption will lower property tax.
To qualify for Homestead Exemption, the home must be a primary residence.
“You have to live there and own it by January 1 of the year you’re claiming,” said Anderson.
This exemption can be filed at any time but needs to be done by March 15 to apply that year. It is carried over automatically each year after that.
In general, Anderson said that Homestead Exemption will save a taxpayer between $80 and $100 annually. The exemption knocks $1,000 off the value of the property.
In a case study, the new owner saved approximately $94 last year by filing for Homestead Exemption.
There are other tax breaks available as well. Senior citizens have the most opportunity to save tax dollars on property.
FOR LOW INCOME
Must be 65 years or older with a Gross Household income of under $12,000.
For those with a Gross Household Income under $20,000 or under $50,00 for those over age 65, breaks are available through Farm Tax Renditions, Changes in Personal Property, Manufactured Home Registration, and Sales Tax Refunds.
Citizens who are housebound may call the assessors office at (918) 341-3290 to arrange a home visitation.
File for homestead exemption, senior freeze, and others
By JOY HAMPTON
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