Deadline looming to recertify homestead exemptionsPublished 2:33pm Thursday, November 29, 2012
Though the ability to recertify homestead exemptions has been available since Oct. 1, Revenue Commissioner Linda Harris said around 1,355 of the 3,300 people in the county receiving homestead exemptions have not yet visited the office to recertify.
As previously reported in The Outlook, the Alabama Legislature passed laws making several changes to the homestead exemption laws.
The law, which raised the maximum income for an exemption from $7,500 individually to $12,000 for combined income, requires people 65 and older and those who have permanent and total disabilities to recertify.
“It’s like starting all over again,” Harris said. “Taxpayers who are over 65 or totally and permanently disabled have to sign up for the homestead exemption just like it’s the first time. They have to bring all of their documentation.”
Harris said those remaining who need to recertify should bring their driver’s license and their 2011 tax return.
Those who are retired due to permanent and total disability must bring documentation from the Social Security Administration confirming the disability or two letters from physicians licensed to practice in Alabama.
One of the common misconceptions, Harris said, relates to the combined income aspect of the changes.
“They see that $12,000 number, and when we call them (to see why they haven’t recertified), they say, ‘I don’t qualify because I make over $12,000,’” Harris said. “But if you’re over 65 years old or disabled, you’re still going to get an exemption even if your income is over $12,000. That’s what they need to know.”
Harris urged everyone who qualifies for an exemption to visit her office at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse before the cutoff date at the end of December.
“I strongly suggest to them not to wait until the last week in December because we’ll have all the last-minute taxpayers – it will be terrible, with long lines and long waits,” Harris said. “Come next week or the week after to renew your homestead exemption.”
Harris said those who do not recertify will lose the exemption completely and will not be eligible to apply until next year.
“If they don’t come in and recertify, we will have to remove their homestead exemption, and they will have to pay taxes next year,” Harris said. “You can’t go back. They’ll have to pay taxes, and they’re not going to be happy about that.”
Harris encouraged anyone with questions to contact the office at 256-825-7831.