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Introduced Version House Bill 3256 History

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hb3256 intr
H. B. 3256


(By Delegates Michael, Kominar,
Craig, Pino and Proudfoot)
[Introduced March 25, 2005; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]



A BILL to amend and reenact §11-4-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §11-6B-2 of said code, all relating to correcting definitions applicable to the assessment of real property and to homestead property tax exemption; and making amendments effective for tax year 2005 and thereafter.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §11-4-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §11-6B-2 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. ASSESSMENT OF REAL PROPERTY.
§11-4-3. Definitions.

For the purpose of giving effect to the "Tax Limitations Amendment," this chapter shall be interpreted in accordance with the following definitions, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:
"Owner" means the person, as defined in section ten, article two, chapter two of this code, who is possessed of the freehold, whether in fee or for life. A person seized or entitled in fee subject to a mortgage or deed of trust securing a debt or liability is considered the owner until the mortgagee or trustee takes possession, after which the mortgagee or trustee shall be considered the owner. A person who has an equitable estate of freehold, or is a purchaser of a freehold estate who is in possession before transfer of legal title is also considered the owner.
"Used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purpose" means actual habitation by the owner or the owner's spouse of all or a portion of a parcel of real property as a primary place of abode to the exclusion of any commercial use: Provided, That if the parcel of real property was unoccupied at the time of assessment and either: (a) Was used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes on the first day of July of the previous year assessment date; (b) was unimproved on the first day of July of the previous year but a building improvement for residential purposes was subsequently constructed thereon between that date and the time of assessment; or (c) is retained by the property owner for noncommercial purposes and was most recently used and occupied by the owner or the owner's spouse as a residence, and the owner, as a result of illness, accident or infirmity, is residing with a family member or is a resident in a nursing home, personal care home, rehabilitation center or similar facility, then the property shall be considered "used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purpose": Provided, however, That nothing herein contained shall permit an unoccupied or unimproved property to be considered "used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes" for more than one year unless the owner, as a result of illness, accident or infirmity, is residing with a family member or is a resident of a nursing home, personal care home, rehabilitation center or similar facility: Provided further, That for tax year two thousand five and thereafter, "used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes" means actual habitation by the owner of all or a portion of a parcel of real property as a place of abode to the exclusion of any commercial use: And provided further, That if the parcel of real property was unoccupied at the time of assessment and either: (a) Was used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes on the first day of July of the previous year; or (b) was unimproved on the first of July of the previous year but a building improvement for residential purposes was subsequently constructed thereon between that date and the time of assessment, the property shall be considered "used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purpose": And provided further, That nothing herein contained shall permit an unoccupied or unimproved property to be considered "used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes" for more than one year. If a license is required for an activity on the premises or if an activity is conducted thereon which involves the use of equipment of a character not commonly employed solely for domestic as distinguished from commercial purposes, the use may not be considered to be exclusively residential.
"Family member" means a person who is related by common ancestry, adoption or marriage including, but not limited to, persons related by lineal and collateral consanguinity.
"Farm" means a tract or contiguous tracts of land used for agriculture, horticulture or grazing and includes all real property designated as "wetlands" by the United States Army Corps of Engineers or the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Occupied and cultivated" means subjected as a unit to farm purposes, whether used for habitation or not, and although parts may be lying fallow, in timber or in wastelands.
ARTICLE 6B. HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION.
§11-6B-2. Definitions.
For purposes of this article, the term:
(1) "Assessed value" means the value of property as determined under article three of this chapter.
(2) "Claimant" means a person who is age sixty-five or older or who is certified as being permanently and totally disabled, and who owns a homestead that is used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes. Provided, That: (1) If the property was most recently used and occupied by the owner or the owner's spouse thereof exclusively for residential purposes; (2) the owner, as a result of illness, accident or infirmity, is residing with a family member or is a resident of a nursing home, personal care home, rehabilitation center or similar facility; and (3) the property is retained by the owner for noncommercial purposes, then the owner of that property may continue to claim a homestead property tax exemption on the property
(3) "Family member" means a person who is related by common ancestry, adoption or marriage including, but not limited to, persons related by lineal and collateral consanguinity.
(4) "Homestead" means a single family residential house, including a mobile or manufactured or modular home, and the land surrounding such structure; or a mobile or manufactured or modular home regardless of whether the land upon which such mobile or manufactured or modular home is situated is owned or leased.
(5) "Owner" means the person who is possessed of the homestead, whether in fee or for life. A person seized or entitled in fee subject to a mortgage or deed of trust shall be considered the owner. A person who has an equitable estate of freehold, or is a purchaser of a freehold estate who is in possession before transfer of legal title shall also be considered the owner. Personal property mortgaged or pledged shall, for the purpose of taxation, be considered the property of the party in possession.
(6) "Permanently and totally disabled" means a person who is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental condition which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.
(7) "Sixty-five years of age or older" includes a person who attains the age of sixty-five on or before the thirtieth day of June following the July first assessment day.
(8) "Used and occupied exclusively for residential purposes" means that the property is used by the owner or the owner's spouse as an a primary abode, dwelling or habitat for more than six consecutive months of the calendar year prior to the date of application by the owner thereof, and that the property is used only as an abode, dwelling or habitat to the exclusion of any commercial use: Provided, That property that otherwise satisfies this definition will continue to satisfy this definition if the owner, as a result of illness, accident or infirmity, is residing with a family member or is a resident of a nursing home, personal care home, rehabilitation center or similar facility: Provided, however, That failure to satisfy this six-month period shall not prevent allowance of a homestead exemption to a former resident in accordance with section three of this article.
(9) "Tax year" means the calendar year following the July first assessment day.
(10 "Resident of this state" means an individual who is domiciled in this state for more than six months of the calendar year.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to correct the definition of "used and occupied exclusively for residential purposes" in both West Virginia Code §11-4-3, which defines certain terms for assessment of real property for property tax purposes, and West Virginia Code §11-6B-2, which defines certain terms for purposes of homestead property tax exemption.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law; and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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