Federal guideline flux delays Adams County in mailing out tax-exemption renewal forms

Posted: Jan. 4, 2013 7:47 pm Updated: Jan. 25, 2013 10:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Nearly 5,200 tax-exemption renewal forms that normally would have been mailed already by the Adams County supervisor of assessments are being held up temporarily because of a delay in finalizing federal tax guidelines.

"We're getting lots of calls" from Adams County residents wondering why they haven't yet received the forms, ordinarily mailed at the end of December, Supervisor of Assessments Georgene Zimmerman said. "We have about 5,200 people who aren't getting mail who are expecting it."

The renewal forms involve both the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption and the 2013 PTAX 340 Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption. New applications for these exemptions must be filed each year, and Zimmerman's office always mails out both renewal forms simultaneously. Many people typically get both at the same time.

"We stuff everything in the same envelope," Zimmerman said. "The postage is prohibitive to do it in two separate mailings."

The mailing hangup specifically involves the assessment freeze form, which goes to about 3,500 residents who qualify for this exemption based partly on the applicant's income.

Zimmerman said the Illinois Department of Revenue, which designs and distributes the freeze form for Illinois residents, hasn't yet released the 2013 form to county offices. The development of this form is tied to the approval of federal tax guidelines, which were slowed in being finalized this year because of last-minute legislative changes passed by Congress on Jan. 1.

"The Department of Revenue likes to match up the form to the IRS tax form," Zimmerman said. "So if there's any changes in the IRS forms, it's going to change the freeze form. So we're just sitting here waiting right now" for the state to release the new form.

"It's like a trickle-down theory," she said.

Zimmerman said she's hopeful the freeze form will be released by mid-January. "But we don't really know" when it will arrive, because the timing depends on finalization of IRS tax guidelines.

The IRS website, as of Friday afternoon, still featured the following notice:

"The IRS is currently reviewing the details of this week's tax legislation and assessing what impact it will have on this year's filing season. The IRS will soon make available additional information on when taxpayers can start filing 2012 tax returns."

Zimmerman said residents who receive the renewal forms late need not worry about the Jan. 31 deadline listed on the homestead exemption form. She said her office will accept the form "anytime" after Jan. 31 "because we're late mailing it out."

Anyone with questions can call Zimmerman's office at 277-2135.