FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Lonnie Sims
Phone: (405) 557-7340
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations & Budget Committee passed legislation by Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, to update the statutory income qualifier to claim an additional homestead exemption. The qualifier has not been raised since 1997.
House Bill 1009 increases the statutory income qualifier to claim an additional homestead exemption from $20,000 to $25,000. The additional homestead exemption reduces, by $1,000, the assessed valuation on the homestead of a homeowner whose gross household income is below the income qualifier limit.
Sims explained that current statute outlines that Oklahomans aged 65 and older who previously qualified for the exemption are no longer required to file annually, but many retired Oklahomans still do. This puts local tax assessors in a position of having to take away the exemption when informed that the homeowner’s income has increased above the current qualifier of $20,000.
"Many Oklahomans are losing their homestead exemption because of the cost-of-living adjustments that have affected their Social Security income throughout the past 24 years," Sims said. "Unfortunately, this has pushed many of their incomes beyond the current qualifier. While this tax savings is not much, it can help an individual who is living month-to-month. It’s time we address this so they can keep this benefit."
On average, the double homestead exemption results in a savings ranging from $87 to $137 annually.
Sims is developing a floor amendment to the bill with Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, to restrict any one-time federal disbursements, such as CARES funding, from being included in the income calculation for this exemption.
Blancett told the committee a constituent contacted her to say that with her federal COVID-19 relief funds this year, she did not qualify for the homestead exemption this year.
"Many seniors who rely on their additional homestead exemption status were bumped off of their eligibility by receiving CARES stimulus, and that was not the intent of this assistance," Blancett said. "I am honored to work with Representative Sims on this important issue to ensure our seniors are not unintentionally harmed."
HB 1009 is authored in the Senate by Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton. After passing the House A&B Committee 31-0, the bill is now available to be considered on the House floor.
HB 1009 is modeled after legislation Sims authored in the 57th Legislature, House Bill 3653, which passed the House unanimously in March 2020 but was not heard in the Senate due to the pandemic.