Yay! Congrats on your new home! You made it through the buying process, and now you’re all moved in. But wait! Don’t forget this important post-closing step – Filing your Homestead Exemption.
Under Alabama law, a Homestead Exemption is a tax deduction a property owner may be entitled to if he or she owns a single-family residence and occupies it as his/her primary residence on the first day of the tax year (October 1st). The Homestead Exemption is NOT automatic and the owner must go to the tax assessor’s office in the county where the property is located to file for the exemption. In Alabama, there are four Homestead Exemptions. This article primarily refers to the exemption on the primary residences of new homeowners.
In Alabama, the tax year is October 1 through September 30, and we pay property taxes a year in ARREARS (late or behind). Alabama law states the tax bill becomes due on October 1 of any given year and must be in the name of the owner whose name was on record for the property on October 1 the year before. (For example, if you purchased property in January of this year, the tax bill you receive will still list the previous property owner’s name.) The current property owner is responsible for paying taxes on all property, regardless of who the bill is addressed. Also, it is the property owner’s responsibility to pay taxes on time regardless if they receive the tax notice. The county is not required by law to send tax bills to property owners.
Applying for Homestead Exemption
Filing your Homestead Exemption in Alabama is easy. The key is making it a priority and getting it done on time. Here are a few key things to remember:
- You must close and take ownership of the property before October 1.
- The deadline to file your homestead is December 31.
- You must show proof of ownership of the property. This is typically evidenced by a copy of the deed.
- The property must be your primary residence.
- You have to file your homestead exemption with the tax assessor’s office (it is not automatically done for you).
- You only have to file your primary residence homestead exemption once.
For more information about filing your homestead exemption in your county, click HERE for contact information for each county tax assessor’s office.