Borough: Tax exemption laws applied fairly, consistently

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2006

This letter is in response to Mr. David W. O’Dell’s letter to the editor of March 23, 2006. Mr. O’Dell and his wife own a “rather large house” along with two other couples. In fact, the property consists a 24-bedroom home (9,400 square feet of living area) on 2.0 acres of land. All three couples occupy the home and two are qualified as Senior Citizens for the purposes of the Senior Citizen exemption.

However, according to KPB Code, the Senior Citizen exemption applies only to the portion of the property occupied by the eligible applicant and his or her spouse and minor children. Mr. O’Dell and the other owners provide rooms to needy adults and children on a charitable basis. These occupants are neither spouses nor minor children. Therefore, the specific limitations written into the Senior Citizen exemption law preclude the application of Mr. O’Dell’s Senior Citizen exemption to a full one-third of the property.

There are various Senior Citizen ownership and occupancy scenarios on the Kenai Peninsula, including Bed and Breakfasts, fishing cabins, lodges and extended family members living in separate structures on multi-acre tracts. Apportionment is appropriate in these cases to adequately reflect the part of the property that the Senior Citizen actually occupies. To ensure fairness to all applicants, the Assessor’s Office uses consistent formulas to determine the percentage of a property that is eligible for exemption.

It is inaccurate and misleading for Mr. O’Dell to state that he is not eligible for the Senior Citizen exemption. He IS eligible for the exemption, but only on the portion of his property that he occupies as defined by the Senior Citizen exemption code.

To Mr. O’Dell’s question, “Where is the compassion of the borough?” I would point out that it is provided in other exemptions. If the owners of this home wish to receive a benefit for their charitable work, they can organize as a non-profit group, deed the home to the non-profit, and apply for the Borough’s Community Purpose Exemption.

As another option, the owners could deed the home to their church because property that is used exclusively for religious purposes receives an exemption. Of course, in each case, ONLY the portions of the property used for community or religious purposes would be eligible for the exemption.

The Assessor’s Office does not have the discretion to administer exemption laws differently from the way they appear in State Statue and KPB Code. To do so would be illegal. It would also unfairly shift the tax burden to other property owners in the Borough.

I do encourage anyone with questions to contact this office at (907) 714-2230 or within the borough toll free at 1-800-478-4441. We do have KPB Code as well as other exemption information and applications on line at www.borough.kenai. ak.us/assessingdept.

Shane Horan

Director of assessing

Kenai Peninsula Borough



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