By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Cleveland County residents can now file for Homestead Exemption year round, but for those who want to save on the coming year’s taxes, the filing deadline is March 15. In addition, the period is currently open to file for special exemptions including Double Homestead, Senior Freeze and the Disabled Veteran’s Exemption.
Filing for those special exemptions runs from Jan. 1 through March 15.
“If you file for Homestead prior to March 15, you get it for that year,” said Cleveland County Assessor David Tinsley. “If you file on March 16, you have that year to file for the next year.”
Year round filing only applies to Homstead Exemption. Homestead exempts $1,000 of the assessed valuation of the home of residence, resulting in a savings between $75 to $125 depending on where in the county the residence is located.
To qualify for Homestead Exemption, you must be the homeowner and an Oklahoma resident and live in the property on Jan. 1. The deed must be executed on or before Jan. 1 and filed with the County Clerk’s Office on or before Feb. 1.
Homeowners do not need to reapply for Homestead. Unless you change ownership or move, your Homestead Exemption will be applied each year. If you move, you will need to re-file at the new address of residence.
Homeowners may apply for exemptions in person or by phone with the Cleveland County Assessors Office in the Cleveland County Courthouse, 201 S. Jones in Norman, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Double Homestead is an additional exemption for low income residents. Tinsley said this year the total household income cannot exceed $20,000 for the previous calendar year. Those who qualify receive an additional $1,000 assessment exemption.
To file for Double Homestead, bring proof of the previous year’s household income so the Assessor’s Office may fill out the proper application. If you are under age 65, you must apply for Double Homestead each year.
If you are 65 or older as of March 15 of the filing period and qualify for additional homestead, you will not have to renew the additional homestead annually. However, it will be the responsibility of the taxpayer to notify the Assessor’s Office if your income exceeds $20,000.
People who own a mobile home and the land, can also get Homestead or Double Homestead. For those who own the mobile home but do not own the land, a tax exemption is available for those who are age 62 or older and have an income of $30,750 or less. Bring a copy of the title and proof of three years paid back taxes.
Senior freeze is also an available exemption in Oklahoma. Persons aged 65 or older who are the head-of-household owner of the home and also live in the home on Jan. 1 can qualify.
“If, by Jan. 1, you are 65 years of age or older and you’re total household gross income is at or below the level for this year, you can apply for the Senior Freeze,” Tinsley said.
The Senior Freeze level for 2013 is $61,500, he said.
The Senior Freeze freezes the taxable level so that taxable value can’t increase.
“They can decrease,” Tinsley said. “They just can’t increase.”
An application for Senior Valuation Freeze must be filed between Jan. 1 and March 15 or within 30 days from the date of a notice of valuation increase. The freeze will take affect for the taxable year in which the application is made and approved. Once you have qualified, the freeze will apply each year. The application must be fully completed with income, age, ownership, and other information for the freeze to be valid.
Taxes can still increase on the Senior Freeze if the millage increases on a property. For example, when a bond is approved by voters and that bond is to be paid off by property taxes, the millage amount may increase even though the taxable valuation is frozen.
“That freezes the taxable value, it does not freeze the millage rate,” Tinsley said.
Disabled veterans can apply for an exemption from taxes.
“If you are a 100 percent disabled veteran and you have a letter from the VA saying that, you can file for that with us,” Tinsley said. “The VA sends those letters out. There’s really no question.”
The 100 percent Disabled Veteran’s Exemption is based on State Question 715, which passed November 2004. It became effective January 2006. The exemption applies to 100 percent of the fair cash value of homestead eligible property.
The property owner must be certified by USDVA as entitled to receive compensation at the 100 percent rate effective Sept. 23, 1998. The evaluation must be permanent with no future examinations scheduled.
“Currently, we have 1,057 disabled veterans that have applied,” Tinsley said.
The property owner must make application on OTC Form 998, available on the Cleveland County Assessor’s website, clevelandcountyassessor.us. Proof of certification and a photo ID is required with application.
The veteran must be Honorably Discharged with 100 percent Permanent Disability. This exemption extends to a surviving spouse, who is head-of-household.
For further information about exemptions call 366-0230.
Near the end of February, the Assessor’s Office will send out notices to anyone who has a value increase. Increases are the result of a visual inspection or other cause of the property value increasing or can be a result of the value cap. Because Oklahoma property has been capped at 5 percent (and with the recent election that has been lowered to 3 percent) some properties increase each year until they reach full market value.
“The new 3 percent cap applies to agriculture land and properties with homestead,” Tinsley said.
New construction on a parcel of land will also result in a value increase.
Tinsley said because property turns over frequently in Cleveland County, a high percentage of parcels are already at full market value but he anticipates 32,000 notices going out this year.
There are 110,000 land parcels in Cleveland County, he said.
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