Representative Troy's Bill to Update Ohio's Homestead Exemption Law Gets Second Hearing
COLUMBUS– State Representative Daniel Troy’s (D-Willowick) bill to update Ohio’s Homestead Exemption Law received its second hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee this week.
“By updating the eligibility threshold and increasing the amount of the exemption, we will be helping our older Ohioans and those with disabilities reduce their property tax burden and save them dollars often needed for other essential necessities,” said Representative Troy.
Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment permitting a homestead exemption that reduced property taxes for lower income Ohioans 65 years or older back in 1970. In 2007, the General Assembly temporarily expanded the program to include all homeowners who were either 65 or older or permanently and totally disabled regardless of their income. Also eliminated at that time was the tiered benefits eligibility that spelled out differing amounts of deductibility, and replaced that with a fixed deductibility of $25,000 in value.
In the 2013 budget bill, and effective in 2014, eligibility was returned to an income limit of $30,000 or less to achieve that $25,000 reduction. Those receiving it regardless of income from 2008-2013 were grandfathered and continue to receive that reduction.
Since the homestead exemption program has not always been updated and adjusted for increases in the cost of living over its 50-year history, Rep. Troy set out to make notable changes to this law.
“There have been substantial cost of living percentage increases since this program was last adjusted. The $25,000 of true value reduction, which has not changed since 2007, would be increased to $40,000 and also indexed for an inflationary increase each year. The current income eligibility threshold of not to exceed $34,200 a year would be increased to $45,000, and would also be indexed from that point on for annual adjustments,” Representative Troy stated.
Rep. Troy noted that his proposal was modest, fiscally responsible, and can be afforded out of current state revenues. The proposal is targeted to bring some needed relief to older Ohioans and disabled citizens on lower fixed incomes that want to stay in their homes.
“As our state’s population rapidly ages, property tax reform and relief should be one of our foremost public policy objectives. Ohio can surely afford to help our older citizens who have contributed so much over their lives for the common good and welfare of our state,” added Representative Troy.
In this second hearing on House Bill 60, three groups provided proponent testimony: Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano, the Western Reserve Area on Aging, and the Ohio Poverty Law Center.
“Approving this bill to increase both the income eligibility threshold and exemption amount for the homestead program is a critical modernization that reflects growing need and the realities of the property tax burden for older adults. The current income eligibility threshold does not meet the needs of a growing older adult population,” said Auditor Stinziano.
“As our aging population continues to grow exponentially, we need to support legislative efforts that enable older adults to live and thrive in their own homes and communities. Mr. Chairman and members of the Ways and Means Committee, thank you, for this opportunity to offer testimony on House Bill 60 on behalf of Ohio’s vulnerable older adults and individuals with disabilities,” said Dr. Douglas Beach, CEO of the Western Reserve Area on Aging in his submitted testimony.
The County Auditor’s Association of Ohio also indicated their support of House Bill 60.
The bill now awaits further hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee.