The West Virginia Homestead Act

By Matthew Bonadio
West Virginia's homestead law allows a tax break for some citizens.

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The West Virginia Homestead Act provides a property tax break for citizens 65 years of age and older. The tax break is also offered for totally and permanently disabled citizens in West Virginia. The tax reduction only applies to home owners. A person claiming the exemption must live in West Virginia for two consecutive years before filing the claim with the county assessor.

Value of Exemption

In West Virginia, county assessors and their staffs determine the value of each home and the surrounding real estate. Property taxes are then computed based on the assessed value. The Homestead Act lops off $20,000 from the assessed value of an eligible taxpayer's property. The savings can add up to hundreds of dollars a year in property taxes. The West Virginia legislature has considered increasing the exemption in the past few years, but no bill has been passed.

Eligibility

Besides the age and disability requirements, those seeking the exemption must be residents of West Virginia, using the home as their primary place of residence. They must live in West Virginia at least six months of the year. The exemption does not apply to banks or real estate companies owning a home.

Duplicate Exemption Claims

Taxpayers claiming the exemption in West Virginia must not claim a similar exemption in another state.

Filing for Exemption and Appeal

Filing for the exemption is available at any county assessor's office. The filing must take place by Dec.1 of the year an individual turns 65 or becomes disabled. A taxpayer only needs to file for the exemption once. If granted, it is permanent. A person filing under the disability provision must notify the assessor within 30 days if his condition improves and he may no longer be considered permanently and totally disabled. If the assessor denies the request, the taxpayer may appeal within 30 days to the county commission. The assessor must deny the request by Jan.1 and provide a written explanation of the denial. If the county commission denies the request, the taxpayer may appeal to the circuit court.

Another Homestead Law in West Virginia

The Homestead Act may also refer to a portion of the West Virginia Code that offers limited protections to people in debt. The law allows debtors to keep $5,000 of their home's value and up to an additional $7,500 in cases of medical or hospital bills caused by serious medical conditions not covered by insurance. This law does not prevent foreclosure, but by exempting a portion of any sale value, may discourage foreclosure. Because of the legal complications of this exemption, debtors and creditors should consult an attorney for details on how this provision may affect bankruptcy and collection proceedings.

About the Author

Matthew Bonadio worked at a daily newspaper for 12 years as a reporter and editor. He wrote a weekly award-winning column on state politics any other matters of extreme importance, including one column titled "Of Milkshakes and Burger Joint." Bonadio holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the College of Wooster and a J.D. from the West Virginia University College of Law.

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