Property tax rebate to aid York County elderly, disabled

adouglas@heraldonline.comFebruary 21, 2013 

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    For more information and questions about who can apply, call the York County’s Auditor Office at 803-909-7171 or 803-684-8501.

— York County senior citizens and people with disabilities might benefit from a property tax refund even if they’ve already paid the taxes on their home this year.

Counties administer property tax savings under the Homestead Act, which exempts qualified homeowners from paying taxes on the first $50,000 of the value of their home. The state reimburses the county for the money it would have taken in from property taxes.

For property tax bills sent in October, York County can adjust the amount owed if an eligible homeowner has not yet paid their taxes. To qualify, homeowners must:

• Apply the exemption to the home they use as their primary residence.

• Be a legal resident of South Carolina as of Dec. 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption.

• Be at least 65 or be totally and permanently disabled or legally blind as of Dec. 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption.

To qualify as disabled, the applicant must show proof from a state or federal agency having the authority to make that decision.

To qualify as legally blind, the applicant must show proof certified by a licensed ophthalmologist or have a letter from the state Commission for the Blind.

Among other documentation accepted, York County accepts Social Security “award letters” as proof of a resident’s disability.

To prove age, applicants need a driver’s license, birth certificate, Medicaid card or Medicare card and Social Security number. If more than one person is named on the deed to the home, the applicant will need the date of birth and Social Security number of the other homeowner.

If a spouse is also listed on a homeowner’s deed, the homeowner will receive the full $50,000 exemption as long as one of the people on the deed meets the eligibility requirements.

If the deed is in the applicant’s name and someone other than their spouse’s name, homeowners will only get a portion of the exemption.

York County provides information about the Homestead Act on the back of tax notices. Some people may be eligible but not realize the savings available, said Amy Boheler, a county auditor.

County Councilman Bump Roddey awareness about the Homestead Act is important because seniors and people with disabilities probably need tax savings the most.

About 20,500 York County residents save money on taxes every year under the exemption.

“People are turning 65 everyday,” Roddey said. “I don’t want anybody to fall through the cracks.”

Roddey used his Facebook page in January to promote the program and said he heard back from many young people hoping to help their grandparents and parents enroll.

In York County, residents apply for the exemption at the county auditor’s office. People who can’t drive or aren’t physically able to leave their home, Boheler said, can authorize someone else to fill out the application and sign on their behalf.

The Homestead Act is a “win-win,” Roddey said, because the state reimburses York County the difference in property tax savings and residents save money on taxes.

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