Property tax lowdown

CAN YOU HEAR ME YELLING?

It’s the middle of the year and Sept. 30 will be upon us shortly. What’s so important about the end of September? Well, it’s the last day to file a homeowners exemption form for your Kauai property taxes. These exemptions help lower the dollar amount of your property taxes that you pay.

Here is the list of Kauai tax owner exemptions taken from the county website at kauai.gov. Forms can be found on their website.

– Homeowner single home exemption

– Additional age exemption for senior citizens

– Based on income

– Totally disabled vets

– Hansen’s disease

– Blind, deaf or totally disabled

This year is my first year as a member of the County Kauai Board of Review. There are five voting members of this board. Beside me (Julie Black, Realtor); Don Kolenda, Realtor; Russell Kyono, Realtor; Jose Diogo, appraiser and vice chair; and Dorothy Bekeart, appraiser and chairperson make up the committee. The committee meets as needed to hear property tax appeals. From these meetings and appeals I have learned some common issues that come up.

Here are some basic tips based on these issues:

– File your tax exemptions and appeals on time. There are no exceptions from the law. If you just purchased your home after the Sept. 30 date you will get the previous owners tax rate. But be sure to file any exemptions for the next year.

Additional age exemptions start at age 60 and increase at age 70. The county does not follow Social Security age brackets.

– Be careful of estate planning. Transferring your elderly parent’s home to an adult child may mean you lose both the home exemption and age exemption. The loss can be avoided by recording a life estate or long term lease to the elderly parent but you most likely will have to reapply.

– Be careful of income tax planning. People are allowed exemptions, not businesses, INCs or LLCs. If you want a corporation to own your home a recorded five-year or more lease should qualify you for the home exemption.

– If you are still unhappy about not being granted an exemption or the current tax assessed value of your property, taxpayers may file an appeal with the county. If the county tax assessor and tax payer can not come to an agreement the appeal may come up before the Board of Review.

Here are some basic tips for appealing your property tax assessment:

– Be prepared. If you are appealing the tax-assessed value be prepared with competitive properties that will support your appeal.

– Know the law. It may not be worth filing an appeal for the home exemption when you applied after the Sept. 30 date.

– Take the county tax department’s advice. Although the county may not be able to grant your appeal for this year, the tax assessor may have advice on how to correct the issue for next year.

Housing prices are high on Kauai compared to many other parts of the United States. Keeping your property taxes lower by taking advantage of multiple exemptions offered by the County of Kauai is one way to keep overall housing costs down. Feel free to call the County Real Property Tax Assessment department at (808) 241-4224 for any questions or clarifications you may have.

Information for this article was taken from kauai.gov, the author’s personal experience and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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Realtor Julie Black is a member of the Kauai Board of Realtors.

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