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(A) The purpose of this section is to provide for uniform and orderly administration of the property tax freeze program for eligible taxpayers. This section is not intended to displace other forms of property tax relief available at the time of its passage except as expressly provided herein.
(B) For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
BASE TAX. The property tax due on the principal residence of a qualifying taxpayer at the time of the effective date of this section approving the property tax freeze under this section. If the taxpayer did not qualify or did not own an eligible residence when the freeze was adopted, BASE TAX means the maximum property tax due on the taxpayer's eligible residence for the year in which the taxpayer became eligible on the basis of an approved application. If a taxpayer reapplies after acquiring a new residence or after a period of ineligibility, the base tax shall be recalculated for the year of reapplication and reestablishment of eligibility.
COLLECTING OFFICIAL. The Town Finance Director.
IMPROVEMENT. Any change to a dwelling or dwelling lot that would properly warrant a change by the assessor in the assessed value of the property for the year or portion of the year in which the improvement is made.
PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE. The dwelling owned by the taxpayer and eligible as the taxpayer's legal residence for voting purposes; provided, however, such size limit shall not exceed five acres. The tax freeze granted by this section shall only apply to the residence and no more than the maximum limit for land established by such rules.
(C) (1) Taxpayers seeking the property tax freeze must apply annually to the Town Finance Director (or designee) and by the deadline established by the Town Finance Director (or designee), and applicants must qualify on the basis of age, income and ownership of eligible property. The Town Finance Director (or designee) shall determine whether requirements for eligibility have been met, and that determination shall be final, subject to audit and recovery of taxes, including penalty and interest at the rates otherwise provided for delinquent taxes under local and state law, if the applicant is later determined to have not been eligible. Any taxpayer who knowingly provides false information concerning the taxpayer's income or other information relative to eligibility for such program, commits a Class A misdemeanor and shall be referred to the District Attorney General.
(2) If the Town Finance Director (or designee) approves the application, property taxes due upon the applicant's principal residence shall be the lesser of:
(a) The actual tax due; or
(b) The base tax, provided the base tax shall be adjusted to reflect any percentage increase in the value of the property determined by the assessor to be attributed to improvements made or discovered after the time the base tax was established.
(D) (1) To qualify for the property tax freeze, the applicant must be 65 years of age by the end of the year in which the application is filed. The applicant must further own and use the property as the applicant's principal residence for which the freeze is sought in the year of application or reapplication and through the deadline date for application or reapplication.
(2) In addition to the qualifications stated in division (E)(1) of this section, the applicant's income, combined with the income of any other owners of the property, and the income of any owners of a remainder interest in the property who used the property as their principal place of residence at any time during the year may not exceed the limit stated in division (E)(3) of this section. INCOME FOR PURPOSES OF QUALIFICATION means income from all sources as defined by the regulations of the Tennessee State Board of Equalization.
(3) The income limit for the property tax freeze program shall be that which is established by the State of Tennessee for senior citizens property tax programs.
(E) (1) The Town is authorized to perform income verification or other related services. In doing so, the Town may seek assistance from another county, county trustee, municipality, and the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, as determined by the Town Finance Director.
(2) Financial records filed for purposes of income verification shall be confidential and shall not be subject to inspection under the Tennessee Public Records Act, but shall be available to local or state officials who administer or enforce the provisions of this section or requirements imposed pursuant thereto.
(F) The property tax freeze program shall conform to any uniform definitions, application forms and requirements, income verification procedures and other necessary or desirable rules, regulations, policies and procedures, not in conflict with this section, as may be adopted by the Tennessee State Board of Equalization.
(Ord. 2008-19, passed 11-10-08)