By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Just more than a week remains for Lee County homeowners to file paperwork for lower property taxes.
Annually, Mississippi homeowners who haven’t yet filed a homestead exemption for property where they reside or had changes impacting their property value have until April 1 to file the exemption at their local county tax assessor’s office. Lee County Tax Assessor Mark “Winky” Weathers’ office is located in the Lee County Courthouse.
Once homestead exemption is filed, a homeowner isn’t required to file again until something impacts the property value or the owner’s martial status changes, he or she turns 65 or becomes disabled.
Any homeowner residing on the property qualifies to pay 10 percent of assessed property valuations and receive up to a $300 tax credit, a significant savings from the standard 15 percent paid on assessed valuations.
Homeowners age 65 or older or those who are disabled receive full exemptions on property taxes owed for the first $75,000 of the home’s value.
Lee County’s chancery clerk office keeps records of homestead exemptions filed. More than 20,000 applicants filed homestead exemptions in Lee County in 2012, a combined savings of more than $2.5 million. Historically, 1,500 to 1,900 new applicants each year file homestead exemptions.
“They’ll save, at minimum, a third of taxes owed on their property where they live in addition to the dollar credits allowed,” said Lee County Chancery Clerk Bill Benson.
For someone under 65 who lives in a house in Lee County valued at $100,000, homestead exemption saves a total of $790. Those with disability or 65 and older would only pay assessed valuations on $25,000 for a home valued at $100,000.
Tupelo resident Craig Byrd bought his home in the Yates Acres neighborhood in 2012 and learned quickly the importance of filing for homestead exemption. His mortgage payments, included taxes for his property, began increasing after he forgot to request the exemption.
A year later Byrd noticed the savings after receiving the exemption.
“It made a heck of a difference in my house payment,” he said. “It went down enough to notice.”