FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Lonnie Sims
Phone: (405) 557-7340
State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) passed legislation to update the statutory income qualifier to claim an additional homestead exemption through the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The qualifier has not been raised since 1997.
House Bill 3653 increases the statutory income qualifier to claim an additional homestead exemption from $20,000 to $25,000. The additional homestead exemption reduces, by $1000, the assessed valuation on the homestead of a homeowner whose gross household income is below the income qualifier limit.
Sims said that current statute outlines that after age 65, Oklahomans who previously qualified for the exemption are no longer required to file annually, but many retired Oklahomans still do. This puts local tax assessors in a position of having to take away the exemption when informed that the homeowner’s income has increased above the current qualifier of $20,000.
“Many retired Oklahomans, for no reason other than simply being honest, are now losing this exemption because of the Social Security income cost-of-living adjustments received over the past 23 years,” Sims said. “This has pushed their income beyond the current qualifier and it’s certainly time for an adjustment so they can keep this small benefit.”
On average, the double homestead exemption results in a savings ranging from $87 to $137 annually.
Pontotoc County Assessor Debbie Byrd, who alerted Rep. Sims to this growing concern, explained that this legislation is critical for the retired and low income homeowners of Pontotoc County who once again may be able to quality for the exemption.
“The small tax savings may not seem like much, but it may cover the groceries for the month or keep the heat on,” said Byrd. “It’s not often local assessors get to aid the legislative process for our State, and I am grateful for the work Rep. Sims and Sen. Montgomery are doing to make sure our taxpayers in most need are never forgotten.”
House Bill 3653 is authored in the Senate by Sen. John Montgomery (R-Lawton). After passing the House 97-0, the bill is now available to be considered in the Senate.