Protests by owners of multi-unit dwellings or apartments over back taxes
owed to the county as a result of being in violation of homestead credit
have prompted a response by Porter County Auditor Robert Wichlinski.
Granting amnesty, the owners of these residencies have until the end of this
year to verify their homestead credit without fines or face paying the back
taxes and penalties in next year’s property tax bill.
Letters of notification were sent to the property owners last week. The
county hopes to have the corrections made so proper tax collecting can be
made from this point on.
“We’re not going to start seeking back pay but with the 2012 pay 2013
(taxes), we’re going to get it right,” Wichlinki said. “Come on in and see
The number of those in question reach into the “hundreds.” resulting in
thousands of dollars owed to the county that go at least three years back,
One property owner this week went to the county office asking why he owed
$12,000 in back payments.
In the case of multi-unit buildings, an owner can only receive a homestead
credit for the unit he or she is primarily residing in rather than the
entire building itself. However, many who sign up for the credit wrongfully
included the entire space on their homestead deduction claim forms which is
When the person submits a completed homestead credit that results in
violation or the sales disclosure form at the close of ownership, Wichlinski
and County Assessor Jon Snyder said it is difficult to determine whether the
individual knowingly or unknowingly committed the errors which is why
amnesty is being given.
“I don’t know if we could ever find that out,” Snyder said.
Wichlinski said he has made it a priority to go after homestead violations
as part of his role in the Total Quality Management plan (TQM). The program
has recaptured an estimated $1.52 million for the county from mostly
single-family residences that are easier to check. The multi-family unit is
a separate component of the effort and has more grey areas.
The county has billed $2.6 million in homestead fraud with $120,000 in
penalties that go to the state.
The new homestead credit deduction forms printed on pink sheets of paper
have been sent out with this year’s county tax bills. Property owners must
have the form completed and dated no later than Dec. 31 this year or face
losing their homestead deduction.
The forms first started showing up in the 2010 tax bills when the new tax
caps were established.
Wichlinski said he figures roughly 10,000 property owners eligible for the
deduction have not responded.