In Mississippi, homeowners can apply for a homestead exemption through their local tax assessor’s office. Applications for homestead exemption must be filed between January 1st and April 1st. The homestead exemption is a tax exemption that lowers the amount of property taxes people must pay on their primary home. Residents must apply for the program, as the exemption is not automatic.
Documents Needed for Homestead Exemption Application
First-time applicants should apply in person. They should bring these documents to the office of the county tax assessor:
- Copy of their recorded warranty deed.
- Vehicle tag numbers.
- Social Security numbers for an individual or married couple or other joint owners.
- Birth dates for an individual or married couple or all parties applying for homestead.
- Closing or settlement statement.
If the applicants are over 65 years of age by January 1st of the filing year, they should bring proof of their birthday to qualify for an additional tax exemption. Proof can be in the form of a state ID card or driver’s license. Individuals who are 100 percent disabled qualify for an additional tax exemption. They should bring proof of their disability from the Veterans Administration or the Social Security Administration.
Who Is Eligible for Homestead Exemption?
In order to be eligible for the homestead exemption, applicants must:
- Be the head of a family.
- Own the real property and live on it on January 1st of the year they apply.
- Be bona fide residents of the state.
- Own or possess vehicles with Mississippi license plates.
- Hold the homestead property as their primary residence.
- File for homestead exemption on only one residence.
Amount of Homestead Exemptions
The two types of homestead exemption are regular and additional. Regular homestead exemption allows for a graduated tax credit up to $300 on a home. The amount is limited to the first $7,500 of assessed value of the property.
The additional exemption allows for a total exemption of "ad valorem" taxes on the property. The term ad valorem means in proportion to the estimated value of the property. The additional exemption is limited to the first $7,500 of assessed value on the property. The additional exemption is for individuals who are 65 or older or 100 percent disabled.
When to Reapply for Exemptions
Property owners do not need to apply for the homestead exemption every year if there are no changes in the legal status of their home. Changes that necessitate filing a new application include:
- Moving to a new home.
- Recording a new deed to the existing home. If a name on a deed is added, removed or changed, the homestead must be refiled.
- Change in marital status, such as getting married or divorced. The applicants should bring proof like a marriage license or divorce decree.
- Acquiring additional property to be homesteaded. If property was received through a will or court order, they should bring this document.
- Adding a commercial or non-homesteaded use to a property, which means the property's legal description has changed.
- Reaching 65 years of age or becoming 100 percent disabled on or before January 1st of the filing year.
When one or more of these events have occurred, the homeowners must go into the tax assessor’s office and sign a new application to update their records. If they do not reapply, they risk losing their homestead credit.
Verify Qualification for Exemption if a Spouse Dies
If a spouse has died, the surviving spouse does not have to reapply for homestead exemption. They must verify with the chancery clerk’s office that they qualify for the same exemption that the deceased spouse received at the time of death.
The surviving spouse should provide a death certificate of the deceased spouse, as well as proof of age if they are over 65 and/or disability paperwork if they are 100 percent disabled.
Reasons for Denial of Exemption
The Mississippi Department of Revenue has the power to deny a homestead exemption. If DOR denies the homestead, the homeowners will be charged for the amount of credit they received. They will be billed the cost in the following tax year. Typical reasons for denial include:
- Owing the state of Mississippi income tax.
- Owning homestead property in a county other than the one in which the primary residence is situated or owning homestead property in other states. The homeowners must live full time on the property with the homestead exemption.
- Claiming to be a resident of another state when assessed income tax.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.