We had a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with Cliff Mann, Tax Assessor for Madison County, Alabama.
One of the items we discussed was the requirement for new homeowners to change their driver’s license to show their new address before claiming homestead on the property. This requirement, although not statutorily prescribed, is being enforced to minimize fraud with the claiming of the exemption. Unfortunately, there have been instances of people claiming homestead on property that was being used for rental or commercial purposes. By providing the Tax Assessor with an updated driver’s license with the homesteaded address, new homeowners qualify for the homestead exemption.
If, for some reason, a new homeowner will not or cannot change their driver’s license, the Tax Assessor will still be able to change the tax rate to the 10% rate as long as the homeowner provides: (1) a utility set date letter showing that the utilities were placed in the owner’s name prior to October 1 and that they are current, and (2) proof of insurance coverage, again, dated prior to October 1. It is important to note, however, that this documentation would have to be provided annually in order to maintain the 10% rate.
Obviously, the best option for new homeowners is to change their current driver’s license. As Mr. Mann mentioned, “Failure to claim homestead on eligible property is the number one mistake homeowners make“. By providing an updated license with their new deed, homeowners can claim the exemption, obtain the additional $48.00 exemption, and not have to worry about it each year!