Kenai Peninsula Borough resident property owners should have received notices recently from the tax assessor's office. If you received a notice with a bright-orange card that reads "Attention Borough Resident - Immediate Attention Required," don't throw it out.
That letter could result in $20,000 off property tax assessments for qualified residents. To qualify, resident property owners have to return an application by Jan. 15 - even if they already receive a residential exemption. In the October borough election, voters approved raising the past residential exemption from $10,000 to $20,000.
The borough sent out 60,000 notices to all previously qualified residents, said Shane Horan, director of assessing for the borough. To get the in-creased exemption, residents have to requalify. Horan said he used the change in law as an opportunity to get everyone recertified and updated.
"It's just a good way to get things cleaned up," he said. "This was an opportune way to do that."
Horan said that homeowners who claim the residential exemption sometimes move and rent out their home without notifying the assessor's office. The borough checks on exemptions when it does field inspections or property. "Are you the owner of this home?" is one question assessors ask residents of property, Horan said.
Exemptions automatically are removed when the borough receives a change of address notice for a resident who moves outside the borough.
To qualify for the residential exemption, property owners must own the property and be the owner of record as of Jan. 1 in the 2005 assessment year. That property must be the primary and permanent residence of the taxpayer for at least 183 days a year. The 183-day residency requirement allows property owners who travel frequently to still get the exemption without spending the whole year on the peninsula.
New residents who purchase a home today and who intend to remain living on the peninsula qualify for the exemption for the 2005 assessment year, Horan said.
Property owners who live and own multi-unit rental properties, such as a duplex home, can take the full $20,000 exemption, he said. It is not pro-rated as with the senior citizen exemption, another borough tax relief program.
For more information on these exemption programs, contact the borough assessor's office at 714-2230, or call toll free at (800) 478-4441, ext. 2230.
Exemption forms are available at the borough office or at the borough's Web site at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assessingdept.
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