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Interest high in St. Joe County's new age 55+ property tax credit

A for sale sign is displayed in front of a house in Westwood, Mass. Home prices hit a new record in October as the number of homes for sale hit an all-time low.
Steven Senne
St. Joseph County's new property tax credit for homeowners age 55 and older applies to taxes due next year

The dramatic, often ridiculous, inflation of the real estate market since the pandemic has led to higher property tax bills in Indiana’s market-value based property tax system.

In an effort to ease the pain, St. Joe County officials are the first in the state to implement a new property tax credit for people age 55 and older.

The new property tax credit, authorized by a state law that took effect in July, was created by a bill sponsored by Republican County Council Members Amy Drake and Dan Schaetzle. It caps annual assessment growth at 2 percent. In addition to being 55 or older, you can only use it on your primary residence, and you have to have lived there for at least 10 years.

Taxpayers could begin applying for the new credit on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Kathy Gregorich, property tax manager in the St. Joseph County Auditor’s Office, says the office has created and filled a new clerical position to handle the new credit. So far, the office has needed the help.

“In a matter of, what, six or seven days, we’ve received about 900 already,” Gregorich says. “That’s pretty unprecedented for us.”

The new credit is for the 2024-pay-2025 property tax year. That means you have until the end of this year, Dec. 31, 2024, to apply.

“We tried to stress that but since we have 900 people that have applied already, we maybe didn’t hit that mark quite where we thought we would, but that’s OK,” Gregorich says.

The credit is projected to cost the county about $375,000 a year in revenue, plus about $65,000 a year for the new clerical position, including benefits.

Applications can only be taken online. Those who need help can come into the auditor’s office and they’ll apply with you on one of their computers.

County officials also will help people apply online Thursday (Jan. 9) at the Main Library downtown from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Classroom B.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).