New limits on senior property tax exemption

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Ohio's latest budget scales back a tax break for seniors.

Governor John Kasich has re-established an income cap on the homestead exemption and some local leaders and lawmakers are fighting to get the full exemption back.

The homestead exemption began in Ohio in 1971 and was expanded over the years. By 2007 all senior citizens, qualifying disabled homeowners, and surviving spouses were eligible regardless of income. That changed, however, with the stroke of Kasich's pen earlier this year.

"This will mean higher property taxes for Ohioans," State Senator Eric Kearney said. "This is the wrong time to do it based on where our economy is right now."

Kearney joined Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes on the steps of the county courthouse Monday to criticize the new limits.

"This is going to create a nightmare for our offices," Rhodes said. "We're going to have to start collecting people's personal information again which we really don't want to do. Worse than that it sets up two classes of people."

Rhodes says his office will now have to verify that people do not earn more than $30,000 dollars a year in order to deem them eligible for the exemption.

Previously, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation, all owner-occupants who were age 65 or older or who were permanently and totally disabled were eligible for a credit worth the taxes that would have been charged on up to $25,000 in true value or $8,750 in taxable value. In other words, an eligible homestead worth $100,000 will essentially be taxed as if it is worth $75,000.

Rhodes argues people will now be divided into those who have been grandfathered in and those who will be left out based on the income restriction.

"It really destroys what was a very helpful program to help seniors maintain their homes and stay here," Rhodes argued.

In our commitment to balanced news FOX19 reached out to Governor John Kasich's office which provided the following statement:

"The governor has cut taxes by $3 billion [over three years] and these folks are calling for a tax cut that is 1.2 percent of that.  They used to fight against tax cuts so they've earned a cookie for giving up that fight and realizing that lower taxes help Ohioans, but without some more zeroes on the end of their number this is probably just another political stunt."

The spokesperson for the Ohio Republic Party, Chris Schrimpf, had this to say in response:

"It's no surprise that Democrats oppose Republican tax reform that provides $3 billion in tax relief and benefits all Ohioans.  The Democrats' candidate for governor is a big government liberal who thinks he knows how to spend the taxpayer's money better than the taxpayer does."

For a list of Ohio County Auditors, click here. 

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