Metro Trustee Charlie Cardwell is concerned that more than three thousand elderly property owners with limited incomes may lose the tax breaks they’ve been granted in previous years because they haven’t sent in their renewal paperwork due by April 5.
“If the property owners don’t renew, many of them could face tax increases they avoided when some property values went up as much as 70% during the 2017 Metro reappraisal,” said Cardwell.
Seven thousand property owners enrolled in a tax freeze program, which allowed them to lock in the amount of their tax bill before reappraisal, saving them hundreds of dollars in property taxes. But one-third of those property owners have not re-qualified, meaning their taxes will revert to the current higher amount.
According to Caldwell, “Even more alarming, about two thousand seniors entitled to pay lower taxes under a tax relief program may lose their benefits because of missing paperwork. Those homeowners are people who earn less than $29,270 a year.”
The tax relief program was set up to ensure lower-income homeowners would not lose their houses because they can’t afford to pay their taxes. Some long-time homeowners have seen property values triple as their neighborhoods redevelop with new construction.
As one example, a taxpayer bought her home near the Fairgrounds 15 years ago for $89,000. Now homes in her neighborhood sell for $300,000 and higher.
“Her land is worth more than her house,” said Caldwell. “Without the tax break that she’s had in the past, her tax payment would double and she could not continue in the tax relief program.”
In some cases qualified homeowners, may not have renewed their tax benefits, because they lost the voucher sent with their property tax bill. In the future, caregivers can arrange for the paperwork to be sent to them.
Timing is critical. After the April 5 deadline is missed, taxes revert to the current level and cannot be reduced. Trustee Charlie Cardwell has asked his staff to make every effort to re-enroll the missing taxpayers.