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Allen County audits homestead deductions

Statement as issued Monday by the auditor’s office:

(March 25, 2013) — The Allen County Auditor’s office is conducting an audit to pinpoint those homeowners in the county who shouldn’t have claimed a Homestead Standard Deduction over the past three years.

As part of the audit, questionnaires will be sent to 2,700 select homestead property owners to determine whether the homestead deduction is accurately in place on the property. 500 of the questionnaires are being mailed today. Property owners will have 30 days to complete the form and return it to the auditor’s office.

“I believe now is a good time to start the audit because each of the last three years taxpayers claiming a homestead credit were given information about who qualifies for the homestead and were also required to verify their homestead,” said Tera Klutz, Allen County Auditor. “Taxpayers who were unfamiliar with the law had the opportunity to report and remove any homesteads they were not eligible to receive.”

Aiding the Auditor’s office with the project is Tax Management Associates, an auditing firm that specializes in local and state government taxes. Under an agreement approved last November by the Allen County Board of Commissioners, TMA investigated the property tax records from every homeowner in the county that had filed a homestead exemption.

The company went through the county’s databases comparing the records to information found about the property owners using LexisNexis’ analytic and research technology. TMA notated property owners that had a homestead deduction filed in Indiana or anywhere else in the U.S., had a home in a trust or similar red flags. The questionnaires are being sent to the individuals in question for additional details to determine their tax status. Based on the answers, the Auditor’s office will either consider the person approved for the deduction or denied. Should a deduction be denied, the property owner will be required to pay additional taxes and penalties for the years the deduction benefit was improperly received.

“It is important to have accurate records for homestead property,” Klutz said. “If taxpayers are claiming more than one homestead on different properties it increases the taxes for the rest of the homeowners and businesses in Allen County.”

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