By Rod Rose For the Times Sentinel
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — More than $80,000 in back taxes has been collected from area homeowners who inaccurately claimed a homestead credit exemption on their property taxes. Homestead credit applies only to “the principle residence” of the homeowner, according to state law. Only one exemption is allowed per home owner. “We will collect a little more with fall collections,” County Auditor Deanna Willhoite said. A state law this year allowed county auditors to review their homestead exemption rosters for up to three previous years, and collect back taxes from anyone who claimed more than one of the deductions. The money goes into a special fund that can only be used for the cost of recovery efforts, preparing notices, and some other expenses related to the office of auditor, Willhoite said. Willhoite opted to go back only one year, she told the Boone County Council Tuesday, while asking for an additional $34,000 to pay the consulting firm Maximus for a review of the records. Maximus was hired by previous auditor Melody Price, Willhoite said. “The reports came back this year; they found quite a few people who had more than one homestead exemption,” Willhoite said Wednesday. ”We removed that exemption, then went back one year and billed them for an additional year.” she said. About 200 homeowners in Boone have not clarified their homestead exemption, Willhoite said. They have until Dec. 31 to do so, or lose the deduction. Willhoite’s decision to go only a year back was criticized by two council members. “Everyone had ample notification they did or did not have a homestead exemption,” Councilman Gene Thompson said. See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for more on this story.