Dem legislators seek expansion of homestead tax break

record-Courier Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Two state lawmakers want to expand the state's homestead property tax exemption to cover all Ohio seniors.

Legislative being offered by Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) and Rep. Nick Barborak (D-Lisbon) would reverse a change made in the biennial state budget earlier this year that based the exemption on income.

The Homestead Exemption provides a break on property tax bills, saving eligible homeowners an average of $400 a year.

Under Gov. Ted Strickland, the exemption was widened to cover all seniors age 65 and older.

The Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. John Kasich changed that earlier this year as part of a larger reform package that included an income tax cut and a sales tax increase.

Existing property owners retained their eligibility, but new ones now must earn less than $30,000 a year to qualify.

Gentile and Barborak want to restore the exemption to all seniors.

"This policy was pushed into the budget in the dark of night, without any opportunity for those affected to have input," Barborak said. "... We believe that we can do better. ... This will restore tax relief to homeowners 65 and older. We believe this is fair, sensible legislation...."

So far, the bills have only one Republican co-sponsor, and GOP leaders of the chambers have not indicated a willingness to move on the issue.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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