Review Exemption Recipients

Review Exemption Recipients

Citizen Tax Saving Suggestion

Since property owners need not re-apply for residential or senior citizen property tax exemptions every year it appears to be quite easy to keep an exemption one is no longer qualified to have.  Example: someone with exemptions decides to move and retain the old property as a rental.  If the move is within the MOA they can choose to not apply for the exemptions on the new property if it has a lessor assessment, or lessor mill levy then the old property.  The result is more exemption then they should be getting.  It is much worse in cases where someone moves out of the state, or out of MOA in which case as long as they don't inform MOA they keep the exemption forever, even though they no longer qualify.  This behavior is already illegal under either State or Municipal code, but seems to not be well enforced.

  From browsing the MOA assessment website I have found instances of properties having exemptions where I know for a fact that the property is a rental.  I have also observed two properties owned by the same person both having exemptions, in this case it slipped by due to marriage/joint ownership of one property and singular ownership of the second.

Much of this could be caught very easily with computer programs.  First address change requests should trigger immediate audit to determine if the exemptions should be lifted as a result.  Second, since many people don't update their mailing address to avoid losing exemptions, postal service change of address orders should be reviewed to find individuals who have moved.  (I believe MOA already has access to postal service COA).  Third, anyone who has an exemption who doesn't apply for the AK PFD should be looked at.  Any information the city has access to regarding residence address should be pooled in a database and compared with data in the MOA assessment database.  MOA already does many of these checks to verify eligibility upon application, MOA should redo these verifications on a routine basis (perhaps every 2 years).

Ethan
Anchorage

Response: 

Thank you for your interest in the administration of the residential exemption.  This is an important program both to the people receiving the exemption and to the other taxpayers who are effected by the tax impact of the program.

You have made good observations and suggestions.  We currently do check for changes of ownership, mailing address and Alaska Permanent Fund status each year to verify eligibility for the program.  We also monitor real estate listings.  If it is noted that a home is offered for lease, we check the status of exemption and ask the property owner to verify that they are still eligible for the exemption.  It is difficult to conduct computer searches based on owners name and have good results.  We do Name match searches of several data sets from the State of Alaska.  We also do a limited number of individual property reviews each year.  We have an objective of having a human being check each individual record once every six years.  All property is reviewed, not just those with the residential exemption.  We do not catch all of the violations of the program but do make a substantial effort to administer the program. 

We also receive a significant number of calls with information and observations from neighbors.  We do follow up on that type of information.  If you are willing to share the specific property you have made an observation about we will investigate the situation. We do not want to pit neighbor against neighbor, so we will not inform the owner of the property in question, and we will not give you specific information about the result of the investigation.  As you know tax information is public record and is available to anyone searching the municipal web site, so you should be able to see the impact of the information you provided to us as we create the tax roll each year.

Marty McGee
Municipal Assessor

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