Are You Getting All Your Ohio Property Tax Breaks?

Learn how to keep your Ohio property tax bill as low as possible.

By , Attorney · Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Receiving a property tax bill for your Ohio home is almost as painful as watching the Wolverines trounce the Buckeyes. As you know, your home is subject to local property taxes. These are assessed annually, and typically paid on a quarterly basis. Of course, you want to make sure that you are not overpaying.

Fortunately, there are two possible ways to reduce your property tax burden. The first method is available to all Ohio homeowners. The second depends on whether you meet certain qualifications. If you meet those qualifications, you can seek tax relief using both methods.

Method #1: Appeal the Taxable Value of Your Home

You may know that the authorities compute your property tax by multiplying your home's taxable value by the tax rate. The taxable value of the home is ordinarily considered to be its fair market value; that is, the amount it would be worth if sold, taking into account its size, neighborhood, and condition.

Imagine, for example, that Mike and Wendy own a home in Ohio. The assessor has placed a taxable value of $200,000 on it. If the tax rate is 1%, Mike and Wendy will owe $2,000 in property tax. If they can reduce the taxable value of their home, their property tax bill will be lower. Let's say that Mike and Wendy appeal the $200,000 taxable value of their home. The appeals board agrees, and reduces that value to $150,000. Given this, Mike and Wendy owe only $1,500 in property tax on their Ohio home.

Value assessments of homes are public. This means that you can get a copy of the assessment from your Ohio county clerk's office to ensure that the local government has the correct information about your home and is not needlessly overvaluing it.

If you believe that the tax assessor has misjudged the value of your home, or if the taxable value is higher than that of similar homes, you may wish to pursue an appeal.

Method #2: Find All Tax Breaks to Which You're Entitled

In addition to trying to reduce the taxable value of your home, Ohio property tax law allows for reduced property taxes if you meet certain requirements. Below is a summary of the most common such programs in Ohio.

Senior homestead exemption. If you are 65 years old or older, you may qualify for an exemption of the first $25,000 of your home's taxable value. Your annual income must be less than $32,800, a figure that changes every few years to adjust for inflation.

Disabled homestead exemption. If you are totally and permanently disabled, or the surviving spouse of such a person, you may qualify for the same exemption as seniors do. The same income limit applies.

Veterans exemption. If you're a U.S. military veteran who is totally and permanently disabled, you're eligible for a larger exemption: the first $50,000 of your home's taxable value. And there's no income limit. Are you the surviving spouse of a veteran who was receiving this exemption when he or she died? Were you living in the home at that time? If your answer to both questions is yes, you may be able to continue receiving the exemption. Again, there's no income limit.

Although Ohio laws set statewide property tax rules, your local government handles the administration and levying of the tax. Thus you'll want to contact your local tax assessor for complete details on property tax exemptions. Be sure to ask about any forms you need to complete and the deadline for filing those forms. You can get contact information for your tax assessor from Ohio's online directory.

In addition to your property tax, which is based on the assessed value of your home, your tax bill may include "special assessments," which are essentially line-item fees. Typically these are made to pay for improvements, such as street paving or repaving, in your neighborhood. Note that if you are part of a homeowners' association, that association may levy these sorts of assessments independent of your state property tax bill.

Depending on the complexity of your particular situation, you might want to seek legal help to reduce your Ohio property tax. To find an experienced real estate lawyer in Ohio, check out Nolo's Lawyer Directory.

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