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Ordinances raise seniors' break on property taxes

By TERRI BRYCE REEVES
Published May 19, 2007


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Starting this year, low-income senior homeowners in both Oldsmar and Dunedin can qualify to exempt as much as $75, 000 of their home's value from property taxes under a pair of ordinances approved this week.

The two North Pinellas cities are among the first and only in Pinellas County to act on new authority voters bestowed last November. In the election, voters overwhelmingly approved doubling the optional property tax break low-income homeowners 65 and older can receive from their local government. Dunedin leaders approved the change Thursday; Oldsmar approved it Tuesday.

The expanded break gives low-income seniors a $50, 000 homestead exemption on top of the $25, 000 exemption given to all owners of homesteaded property. To qualify, seniors 65 and older must apply annually and have an income of $23, 414 or less.

In Oldsmar, the additional seniors exemption, based on the 2006 tax rate, will mean a savings of about $230 in 2007. However, the tax rate could change dramatically if the Florida Legislature passes significant property tax changes next month in a special session. In Dunedin, the savings based on the 2006 tax rate would be $205.

In order for senior citizens to get the additional exemption in 2007, their local governments must adopt an ordinance and deliver a copy of it to the property appraiser's office by June 1.

In Pinellas, Redington Beach has passed an ordinance, but it won't take effect until 2008.

Erin Moore, deputy for assessment administration at the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office, said Friday that she understands some other communities may file paperwork, but the office hadn't received them.

There's only one catch for seniors who are hoping to save some cash this year - they needed to have applied as a low-income senior by March 1.

"If they already applied for the senior homestead exemption for $25, 000 they will automatically get the $50, 000 exemption. There is nothing further they need to do, " she said. Also, if they had extenuating circumstances in 2007 such as an illness or reason to be out of town, they still may file an appeal.

Those seniors who feel they qualify but missed the deadline this year will have another chance in January when the 2008 homestead renewal cards are sent out.

"They should look for an informational flier that includes the locations and times of where they may apply, " Moore said.

Times staff writer Tamara El-Khoury contributed to this report. Terri Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

[Last modified May 18, 2007, 22:55:33]


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