Bill would freeze property taxes for seniors

Larry Limpf

News Editor

Some senior citizens who own homes would get a break on their property taxes if a bill introduced in the state legislature becomes law.
State representatives Thomas Hall, R- Madison Township, and Dani Isaacsohn, D-Cincinnati, said the bill, called the 70 Under 70 Plan, will protect Ohio seniors from increases in property taxes by implementing a property tax freeze for certain owner-occupied homes.
Requirements for eligibility are as follows:
-Individual must be 70 years of age or older
-Income must not exceed $70,000
-Individual must have owned their home for 10 years or more
“Our seniors have made our communities what they are today and now, it is our turn to give back to them,” Rep. Hall said during a press conference announcing the bill. “The 70/70 Plan will help Ohio seniors maintain financial stability and remain comfortable in their homes without the fear of losing them or questioning how they will pay for other basic necessities.”
Rep. Isaacsohn said the bill stems from recent projections of increases in property taxes.
“With dramatic increases in property values, there is no better time than the present for this bill,” he said, adding parts of his district have seen property values double in the past five years followed by increases in property taxes.
The fiscal impact of the bill has yet to be determined and the bill won’t be subjected to opponent or proponent testimony until it has been assigned to a committee.

Bill pending
Another property tax bill sponsored by Rep. Hall had its fourth hearing last week before the House Ways and Means Committee.
If passed, House Bill 187, would alter how county auditors assess property values.
In his sponsor testimony to the committee, Rep. Hall said the bill would protect vulnerable Ohioans by modifying the procedures used to conduct property tax sales assessment ratios. Specifically, the bill requires the tax commissioner to work with local elected officials and weigh the past three years of a county’s property values to determine a property tax, instead of just one.
Since being assigned to the committee, the bill has been amended to include farmland that is taxed under a formula known as the Current Agricultural Use Valuation, which assigns farmland value based on its potential yield in a given year. More productive farmland is taxed higher than farmland deemed to have a lower potential.
Evan Callicoat, a policy director at the Ohio Farm Bureau, said growers face higher tax burdens.
“Property taxes are the least favorable tax a farmer pays due to the nature of how they impact production agriculture directly. Property tax is a tax on agriculture's most important production asset; farmland. And whether or not that farmland produces in any given year and provides income, or if that same farmland is hit by any number of issues and produces no income, that property tax bill still comes due. As I said earlier, HB 187 will help provide short term property tax relief while the legislature pursues long term tax reform,” he told the committee.
Some county auditors have testified in support of the bill but the Ohio County Auditors Association said the state shouldn’t alter the appraisal process.
In June, Jennifer Widmer, Ottawa County auditor and President of the Northwest District of the. County Auditor’s Association, provided opponent testimony.
“The most accurate indication of value on January 1st of any given year is the sales that occurred closest to that date, not ones that occurred two to three years prior. On a purely statistical basis, the proposed averaging of data for three years skews and misrepresents value as of tax lien date, detaching the values from the most current information,” she said.


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