(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 as an 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 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.
(b) Attachment of exemption. -- This exemption shall attach to the homestead occupied by the qualified owner on the July first assessment date and shall be applicable to taxes for the following tax year. An exemption shall not be transferred to another homestead until the following July first. If the homestead of an owner qualified under this article is transferred by deed, will or otherwise, the twenty thousand dollar exemption shall be removed from the property on the next July first assessment date unless the new owner qualifies for the exemption.
(c) Construction. -- The residency requirement specified in subsection (a) is enacted pursuant to the Legislature's authority to prescribe by general law requirements, limitations and conditions for the homestead exemption, as set forth in section one-b, article ten of the constitution of this state. Should the supreme court of appeals or a federal court of competent jurisdiction determine that this residency requirement violates federal law in a decision that becomes final, this section shall then be construed and applied, beginning with the July first assessment day immediately following the date the decision became final, as if the residency requirement had not been enacted, thereby preserving the availability of the homestead exemption and the fiscal integrity of local government levying bodies.
(b) Claims for disability exemption. -- Each claim for exemption based on the owner being permanently and totally disabled shall include one of the following forms of documentation in support of said claim: (1) A written certification by a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy licensed to practice their particular profession in this state that the claimant is permanently and totally disabled; (2) a written certification by the social security administration that the claimant is currently receiving benefits for permanent and total disability; (3) a copy of the letter from the social security administration originally awarding benefits to the claimant for permanent and total disability and a copy of a current check for such benefits, marked void; (4) a current social security health insurance (medicare) card in the name of the claimant and a copy of a current check to the claimant, marked void, for benefits from the social security administration for permanent and total disability; (5) a written certification signed by the veterans administration certifying that a person is totally and permanently disabled; (6) any lawfully recognized workers' compensation documentation certifying that a person is totally and permanently disabled; (7) any lawfully recognized pneumoconiosis documentation certifying that a person is totally and permanently disabled; or (8) any other lawfully recognized documentation certifying that a person is totally and permanently disabled.
(c) Renewals. --
(1) Senior citizens. -- If the claimant is age sixty-five or older, then after the claimant has filed for the exemption once with his or her assessor, there shall be no need for that claimant to refile unless the claimant moves to a new homestead.
(2) Disabled. -- If the claimant is permanently and totally disabled, then after the claimant has filed for the exemption once with his or her assessor, and signed a statement certifying that he or she will notify the assessor if he or she is no longer eligible for an exemption on the basis of being permanently and totally disabled and that the claimant will notify the assessor within thirty days of the discontinuance of the receipt of benefits for permanent and total disability, if the claimant originally claimed receipt of said benefits to document his or her claim for exemption, there shall be no need for that claimant to refile, unless the claimant moves to a new homestead.
(3) Waiver of exemption. -- Any person not filing his or her claim for exemption on or before the first day of December shall be determined to have waived his or her right to exemption for the next tax year.
(4) Residential care exception. -- For purposes of this section, an otherwise qualified claimant who, as a result of illness, accident or infirmity, resides with a family member or is a resident at a nursing home, personal care home, rehabilitation center or similar facility is not considered to have moved to a new homestead.
(b) In the event that the assessor shall have information sufficient to form a reasonable belief that a claimant, after having been originally granted an exemption, is not eligible for said exemption, he or she shall deny the exemption on the next assessment date and shall promptly, but no later than the first day of January, serve the claimant with written notice explaining the reasons for the denial and furnish a form for filing with the county commission should the claimant desire to take an appeal.
(b) Review; determination; appeal. -- The county commission shall complete its review and issue its determination as soon as practicable after receipt of the notice of appeal, but in no event later than the twenty-eighth day of February of the tax year for which the exemption is first applied. In conducting its review, the county commission may hold a hearing on the claim. The assessor or the claimant may apply to the circuit court of the county for review of the determination of the county commission in the same manner as is provided for appeals from the county commission in section twenty-five, article three of this chapter.
(b) Levy; statement to homestead owner. -- When the twenty thousand dollar exemption is greater than the total assessed value of the eligible homestead, no taxes shall be levied. The sheriff shall issue a statement to the owner showing that no taxes are due.
Acts, 1983 1st. Ex. Sess., Ch. 15.
(b) Fraudulent assessments. -- (1) An assessor or employee of a county who, with intent to defraud the state, assesses the value of the eligible claimant's homestead for an amount which is in excess of its true and actual value or is in excess of the assessed value of similar property in his county, in order to increase the cost of the homestead exemption to his county and to thereby secure a larger reimbursement from the state, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned. Each violation of this subsection shall constitute a separate offense.
(2) An assessor or employee of a county who, with intent to defraud a claimant, assesses the value of the eligible claimant's homestead for an amount which is in excess of its true and actual value or is in excess of the assessed value of similar property in his county, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned. Each violation of this subsection shall constitute a separate offense.
(c) Failure to notify assessor. -- A claimant or his legal representative, who, prior to the next first day of July, fails to notify the assessor of the county wherein property subject to the homestead property tax exemption is located, that title to that property or a portion thereof was transferred by deed, grant, sale, gift, will or by the laws of this state regulating descent and distribution, that the property is no longer used and occupied for residential purposes exclusively by the claimant or that the claimant is no longer permanently and totally disabled, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year or both.
(d) In addition to the criminal penalties provided above, upon conviction of any of the above offenses, the court shall order that the defendant make restitution unto the state for all taxes not paid due to an improper exemption for the claimant and interest thereon at the legal rate until paid.
(b) Amendments to this article enacted in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety shall, regardless of the effective date of this act, be used to determine the assessed value of property on which ad valorem property taxes are levied for tax years beginning on or after the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred ninety. Assessors and county commissioners are hereby authorized and directed to review the claims for homestead exemption for the current tax year filed in their counties prior to the second day of October, one thousand nine hundred eighty-nine, and to make such changes in their books for the current tax year as may be needed to give these amendments their intended effect, regardless of any other provision in this chapter that may prohibit such action. Any person who has already paid property taxes for tax year one thousand nine hundred ninety, and who is considered eligible for homestead exemption under this article, may apply pursuant to section twenty-seven, article three of this chapter for a refund for property taxes erroneously paid.
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