Southampton County sees 89 percent increase in request for real estate tax exemptions

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton County this year has seen an 89 percent increase from residents requesting to be exempt from paying their full share of real estate taxes.


Residents learned about the option when they filed for an exemption for the first-time $200 annual garbage fee.


“We got 350 applicants so far and we still have another 30 days before the (March 1) deadline,” Commissioner of Revenue Amy Carr told supervisors during their Monday meeting.


Carr said her department’s workload has doubled. She had 152 apply for exemptions in 2012.


“And we haven’t finished taking applications,” she said. “Many more are taking advantage of the program.”


An exemption is given to a home occupied by residents 65 or older, or who are totally disabled, have a combined annual household income of less than $30,000, and a combined financial worth of less than $80,000. Also exempt are households occupied by veterans who are exempt from real estate taxes due to a 100 percent military disability.


Supervisors during their Monday meeting unanimously agreed to give Carr $8,000 to cover the manpower expense of handling more applications. Each takes 1½ hours to process.


“We want to give every citizen the time to go over this,” Berlin-Ivor District Supervisor Ronnie West said. “My personal opinion is we need to fund it for the $8,000 and look at it at budget time.”


“It’s a difficult process,” added Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips. “The people who are working for the commissioner of revenue’s office are looking to make this as palatable as possible. I am in favor of giving funding for this.”


Those receiving exemptions must re-apply annually. Carr believes the county can save money by asking applicants to fill out an affidavit, which is a sworn statement verifying their financial status has not changed from this previous year. Law allows residents to do this for three years.


—By Gwen Albers