Wed, April 24, 2024

Real Talk Real Estate: How to File for a Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption is a valuable benefit for homeowners. It provides a reduction in local property taxes, providing a little financial relief. The deadline is looming to take advantage of this homeownership benefit. April 1st is the most common deadline locally; Aiken County may give you a little more time.

It seems like a huge burden and a lot of work, but I just completed mine in Columbia County and it was so easy. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or looking to maximize your savings, understanding how to file for a homestead exemption is essential. Here are a few helpful hints to encourage you to go ahead and file for yours.

Before proceeding with the application, it’s crucial to determine your eligibility for a homestead exemption. Eligibility requirements vary by state and even by county, but typically, you must own and occupy the property as your primary residence by a certain date, usually January 1st of the tax year. Here in our communities, you only have to apply one time. It will then be applied every year until the house transfers ownership.

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The most daunting part of this process is that you can only apply in person. I think this is why so many people neglect to follow through with the application. I would recommend you call your local tax assessor’s office and ask what you need to bring with you to file for a homestead exemption, and where you need to go to file. They should ask a few questions to get you the most accurate response. Looking at forms online will be confusing, lending unnecessary anxiety to the process.

In Columbia County, I only needed to come in and show my driver’s license. I called first to confirm. When I arrived, I was the only one there, no line or long wait. They completed all the forms, and it took about 5 minutes total!

Supporting documentation to verify your eligibility for the homestead exemption will be required if your driver’s license does not match the property address. This may include proof of ownership, such as a deed or title, proof of residency like a utility bill, and possibly other documents specified by your local tax assessor’s office. Technology has helped this become less tedious as all ownership records are easily accessible online.

Missing the deadline for filing your homestead exemption results in the loss of tax savings for the current year, but getting there is the most important step because once it has been applied, you will be thankful to see the savings. I’m including the phone numbers for the local offices to give you the motivation you need to file this week.

COLUMBIA COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR OFFICE: 706-312-7474
RICHMOND COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR OFFICE: 706-821-2397
AIKEN COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR OFFICE: 803-642-1510
BURKE COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR OFFICE: 706-554-2607
EDGEFIELD COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR OFFICE: 803-637-4066

Filing for a homestead exemption is a straightforward process that can benefit you with some significant tax savings. Take time following these simple steps so you can take advantage of this valuable benefit and enjoy the financial relief it provides.

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