Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith and Treasurer Russ Joseph discussed two ways they plan to help tornado victims with their property taxes. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Tornado victims get tax deadline break, could seek reduction in value

Montgomery County tax bills began arriving in property owners’ mailboxes this week, but some relief is being offered for those whose houses were damaged by the Memorial Day tornado outbreak.

Owners who believe their property values declined more than 25 percent because of damage caused by the tornadoes are eligible for a one-year extension on the due date of their second half taxes, Montgomery County Treasurer Russ Joseph said Tuesday.

It is the first time in memory that the office has extended the property tax deadline for storm victims, Joseph said.

MORE: Dayton to eliminate demolition fees after criticism on tornado cleanup

Extensions, if approved by the Board of Revision, will push back the tax due date to July 2020, giving people more time to complete their insurance claims and make needed repairs, he said.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith also is encouraging residents to apply for a reduction in their property values, if their homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged by the storm.

“This is a very unique and catastrophic situation we’re all dealing with on many levels,” Keith said.

MORE: Local residents face tough decisions after tornadoes

The deadline to pay the second half of the year property taxes without penalty is July 19.

The tax bills are showing up one month after a record-setting number of tornadoes tore through the county, damaging as many as 5,000 properties, according to preliminary estimates.

Tornado victims face a slew of hardships related to clean up, finding new housing and paying for repairs or to rebuild their homes and buildings.

“I realize the timing of these tax bills could not come at a worse time for some of our residents, but the work of the treasurer’s office must go on to ensure our community partners receive the funding they need to deliver critical services to the community,” said Joseph.

MORE: Insured property damage estimated more than $500 million

He is encouraging tornado victims to apply for 12-month property tax extensions, which will be approved or denied by the Board of Revision.

The forms are online at www.mctreasurer.org and can be picked up at the treasurer’s office at 451 W. Third St. in the county administration building.

Ohio Revised Code allows for tax deadline extensions during emergencies when taxpayers could accrue penalties for reasons beyond their own control.

Keith said he was unaware of the provision and praised the treasurer’s office for doing research and creating the program to assist with the tornado recovery.

“I’ve been in county government now well over 30 years, and this is the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve ever extended a due date, for any reason,” Keith said. “Talking with my colleagues around the state … I don’t think anyone has ever done this before.”

MORE: How churches are proving critical to Memorial Day tornadoes recovery

In Montgomery County, property taxes are paid one year in arrears, which means taxes owed and paid in 2019 are based on 2018 values.

The auditor is accepting applications requesting to reduce the values of properties damaged or wiped out by the storm.

The auditor’s office is sending appraisers into the field to review buildings and structures to determine if the values should be reduced for next year’s tax cycle, and already about 100 people have completed applications, Keith said.

“We’re asking property owners to complete those and get those into us by the end of August to give us time to do that, so they can be effective for next year’s taxes,” Keith said.

One requirement is that applicants need to sign the forms in the presence of a notary. Some auditor’s office staff will take exams this week to try to become notaries to help increase the supply.

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