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Homeowner’s exemption drops again, this time to $83,974 for 2012

The state Tax Commission has set the maximum homeowner's exemption from property taxes for 2012, and it's dropping again, this time down to $83,974. That's down from $92,040 this year. The exemption is tied to the Idaho Home Price Index, so it goes up and down with Idaho home values, under a 2006 law. The maximum exemption hit a high of $104,471 in 2009, then began declining as Idaho home values dropped.

The homeowner's exemption exempts 50 percent of the value of an owner-occupied home from property taxes, but it's capped at the annually-adjusted maximum. That maximum was set at a fixed $50,000 for 23 years, from 1983 to 2005 - causing a big property tax shift onto homeowners as home values escalated but the exemption stayed the same - before the 2006 Legislature decided to raise it to $75,000 and tie it to future ups and downs in home prices.

The drop in the maximum from 2011 to 2012 won't make any difference for owners of lower-priced homes, according to Alan Dornfest, property tax policy supervisor for the Tax Commission, who noted, “There will be no change in the amount of the homeowner’s exemption for anyone whose home has a 2012 market value under $167,948.” Click below for the Tax Commission's full announcement and a table showing changes in the maximum exemption over the years.

Homeowner’s exemption going down

When Idaho lawmakers raised the homeowner’s exemption from property tax from a maximum of $50,000 to a maximum of $75,000 in 2006, they also tied future changes in the exemption to the Idaho Housing Price Index, which tracks home prices in Idaho. That’s meant it’s gone up substantially in the last few years, hitting a maximum of $104,471 this year - but it also means it’ll go down next year. The Idaho Tax Commission announced today that the maximum homeowner’s exemption 2010 will drop to $101,153.

“The decrease reflects the current state of the real estate market for residential property,” said Alan Dornfest, property tax policy supervisor for the Tax Commission. The homeowner’s exemption exempts from taxes half the assessed value of the home and up to one acre of land for an owner-occupied home, up to the maximum value. The maximum was first set at $10,000 in 1980, then raised to $50,000 by voter initiative in 1983, where it stayed until 2006.

Dornfest noted that the decrease for 2010 isn’t unexpected; according to Tax Commission figures, residential property values already have dropped across the state. “It’s hard to say how much effect this really has, because if it tracks along with your home’s assessed value going down, it may have no effect,” Dornfest noted. “That’s impossible to say (now), because it’s dependent on the 2010 values.” The first tax bill to be affected by the change will be the one that comes due in December of 2010, he noted. “The intent of the Legislature, I think, was to keep it level, basically, with respect to market changes, and I think this just reflects that.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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