Proposed legislation would tie Ohio’s homeowner exemption, which is a tax credit that exempts some elderly and disabled Ohioans from paying part of their property taxes, to the inflation of the dollar.
“Most people who are eligible for the homestead exemption here in Ohio are homeowners who are on a fixed income,” Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, the primary sponsor of this legislation, said in a news conference.
“One of the biggest enemies of people on a fixed income is inflation, and the current income exemption does not take into account the cost of inflation,” Stephens said. “And that is greatly affecting not only constituents of my district in the 93rd House District, but all across Ohio.”
Currently, a homeowner is eligible for this exemption if he or she meets an income threshold that is tied to inflation and is either disabled or 65 years old or older. In 2019, the income threshold was $32,800 based on the combined income of the applicant and the applicant's spouse; in 2020, this will increase to $33,600.
An eligible homeowner is currently exempt from paying taxes on the first $25,000 of the value of the home. Depending on the value of the home, some disabled veterans are eligible to be exempted from paying taxes on the first $50,000 depending on the tax bills. Both of these values are fixed rates that can only increase through an act of the legislature, which this legislation would change. The inflation would be calculated in the same way it is calculated for homeowner eligibility.
Stephens said that the most recent numbers show that the state loses about $414 million in tax revenue from the credit. Tying this to inflation, he said, would boost this by about $8 million, which would bring the total cost to the general revenue fund up to about $422 million in the next year. He said such gradual, small increases would not impact school funding.
More than 800,000 homeowners take advantage of this tax credit annually and the average person saves about $500 each year.
“This bill is a fair bill and a simple bill,” Stephens said. He said this would be a huge relief to senior citizens and disabled veterans who live day to day on a fixed income.
When asked about seniors who are struggling to pay their tax bill who are not eligible for the credit, Stephens said that while this bill does not address that problem, it is something that the state should consider looking into.