If you're a homeowner here in the Treasure Valley, you've probably noticed that your property taxes are on the rise. The fees are going up due to home values rising and assessed levies for new schools. One of the easiest ways to save money on your property taxes is to file a Homeowner's Exemption with the county assessor's office.
A Homeowner's Exemption reduces the property's taxable value 50% or up to $100,000, whichever is less. The exemption can only be applied to a single residence and up to one acre of land. Commercial property doesn’t qualify.
To get the exemption, you'll have to apply, and it will remain in effect for as long as you own the home and use it as your primary dwelling.
You do have to apply by April 14th; otherwise, it won't be in effect until the following tax year. Technically the deadline is April 15th, but we've heard applications received on the 15th don't go into effect until the next year.
Claiming an exemption you don't qualify for
Three words: Don't do it. The Assessor's office has a list of instances where you can be fined for claiming an erroneous exemption.
Questions you should ask yourself before filing a homeowner's exemption:
Do you claim the home as your primary dwelling?
Does your driver's license list this home as your address, and does your vehicle registration go to this home?
Are you registered to vote in this home's precinct?
Is this property listed as your primary address on your federal income taxes?
Do your children go to school in this home's school district?
These questions are all used by the Assessor's office when determining the validity of a homeowner's exemption application. As you can imagine, fraudulently claiming an exemption will be costly to the homeowner. According to Idaho Code, "upon discovery of evidence indicating the existence of an improperly claimed Homeowner's Exemption, the Assessor must assess recovery of the property taxes, plus cost, late charges, and interest.
As you can see, while there are some qualifications required, saving up to $100,000 off the assessed value of your home is worth the effort.
You can get more information about the Homeowner Exemption and download the form on the Assessor's website.