PARKERSBURG - The filing period for the homestead exemption tax break is open.
The deadline to file is Dec. 1, but since that date falls on a Sunday this year, Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said applications will be accepted until Dec. 2.
The exemption provides a discount on real estate taxes for those 65 or older and those totally and permanently disabled. Applicants must be a Wood County resident and occupy their home for more than six consecutive months each year.
The tax break includes mobile or manufactured housing, as long as it's owned and occupied as the applicant's residence.
Shaffer said the exemption usually saves the property owner between $225-$275 annually, depending on the location of the property. The homestead exempts the first $20,000 of assessed value on the applicant's single-residence, owner-occupied property.
"We approve about 950 new applications each year, a similar number are removed due to individuals passing away," Shaffer said.
Proof of disability is required if you are applying due to disability.
Proof can be a physician's letter stating the applicant is permanently and totally disabled, documentation from social security or the military, Shaffer said. Proof of age is required if you claim the exemption due to age. A driver's license is acceptable for proof of age, Shaffer said.
"Once you are on homestead, unless you move, you remain on it. If you move, you need to reapply. We receive death notices from the county clerk. In the case of a couple who both qualify, we try to get both spouses to sign on when they apply. If we don't have both signatures, we mail the card to the surviving spouse, if they qualify, to sign up," the assessor said.
Claiming a homestead in another state disqualifies the property owner from applying in West Virginia.
Legislation to raise the homestead was introduced during the most recent session but did not pass.
The homestead was first introduced in 1973 at $5,000. It was raised to $10,000 in 1980 and to $20,000 in 1982 and has not been increased since that time. Shaffer said concerns over the lost revenue have been expressed in other parts of the state and that may be the reason for the failure of the proposal.
"With the economy the way it is, some of the counties would have lost a lot of revenue and it might have hurt them," Shaffer said.
Those wishing to apply for the exemption can do so in the assessor's offices in either the Wood County Courthouse or Judge Black Courthouse annex, office hours in both are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to check the status of a homestead call the assessor's office at 304-424-1875.