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Democrats decry changes to Homestead Tax Exemption

Oct. 18 (Dayton Daily News (OH)) The new restrictions on the Homestead Tax Exemption that begin in 2014 for any homeowner who has not turned 65 are unfair and will be a burden on senior citizens of the future, said two local Democrats in a news conference today.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said the homestead program, which exempts the first $25,000 or property value from taxation, is popular in the county.

"We currently have 48,000 property owners in Montgomery County taking advantage of this program," Keith said at a Thursday afternoon press conference at the county Democratic headquarters on Wilkerson Street in Dayton. "That's roughly 30 percent of the owner-occupied properties in Montgomery County."

"Unfortunately for many Ohioans, Gov. Kasich recently signed the state budget bill that eliminates the Homestead Tax Exemption for many in the future in order to pay for handouts of up to $6,000 for the most wealthy and well-connected among us."

The exemption rules that will go into effect in 2014 will not change for anyone who has turned 65 and is enrolled in the program by the end of the year, said Gary Gudmondson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation.

For those who turn 65 after Jan. 1, however, household income must be below $30,500 to be eligible, Gudmondson said. A previous means test, that was tiered based on income was eliminated in 2007. The new means test was added to return to the "originally approved system" according to the Department of Taxation's website.

Keith and Dayton City Commission candidate Jeffrey Mims called on legislators to pass bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate that would reinstate the exemption for all senior citizens.

"We've seen income tax cuts at the state level," Keith said. "We've seen cuts to the local government fund. We're funding those income tax cuts on the backs of property owners, on the backs of senior citizens and on the back of local government, and it needs to stop."

But Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols emphasized that everyone who gets the exemption now will continue to get it, and in the future "only those who truly need it will get it."

"What we did with the Homestead Tax Exemption was so we could cut taxes across the state for virtually every small business and every Ohioan to the tune of $3 billion over three years," Nichols said.

By comparison, he said, the Homestead tax amounted to $36 million over three years.

"We cut $3 billion in taxes," Nichols said. "That is a shot of adrenaline into the state to get people working, to create jobs, and to get the economy back on track."

Copyright Dayton Daily News (OH) 2013

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