October brings what many look forward to this time of year: a nice chill in the air, the Coastal Carolina Fair and All Hallows Eve.
This month also brings what many wish to shun: property taxes, the real goblins that can wreak havoc with your wallet.
But for those who are 65 and older and own their homes, there are treats to be had.
And if you are not taking advantage of the Homestead Exemption, you are leaving goodies on the table.
No one wants to do that, especially if you are on a fixed income.
A Charleston County government website estimates that some homeowners theoretically could cut their tax bills in half with the exemption.
And that’s no trick.
If you are 65 or older or totally disabled or totally or legally blind, you can file for the S.C. Homestead Tax-Exemption Program.
The 1972 law exempts $50,000 of the value of your home.
Of course, you must be a legal state resident for at least one year.
To get the exemption, you must file an application with the Charleston County Auditor’s Office. Residents of Berkeley and Dorchester counties must file with their auditors.
You must prove eligibility by having a Medicaid or Medicare card, birth certificate or driver’s license if applying based on your age; certification from a state or federal agency is required if applying because of disability or blindness, the website states.
Pass the word
According to the Charleston County website, a person who owes $1,080 in annual taxes can see his bill drop to $540.
Who would not like that?
However, Homestead representative Stephanie Williams said only about 1,500 people annually take advantage of the exemption.
For the last 20 years, reminders have been placed on the back of tax bills.
Despite that, Charleston County Auditor Peter J. Tecklenburg said for whatever reason, some seniors still are not taking advantage of the tax reductions.
He suggests younger people remind older family members and friends to ask for the reductions.
“For some on fixed income, it can be a major difference.”
The whole idea for the exemption was to help those who need it the most, “to make sure they don’t get taxed out of their homes,” Tecklenburg said.
Tax bills, which “went out on time,” Tecklenburg said with pride, began showing up in mailboxes the first week in this month.
Anyone with questions should call or go by the auditor’s office.
“We are here to help,” he said.
So pass the word to family and friends. Even ask the church secretary to announce it or place it in the Sunday bulletin.
It’s a treat sweeter than the cotton candy at the Coastal Carolina Fair.
For more information, call 843 958-4200 or visit www.charlestoncounty.org/TaxInfo/PropertyTaxSaving.htm.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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