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Property Owners Encouraged to Take Advantage of Tax Credits

April 9, 2008 – Lieutenant Governor Gregory R. Francis is encouraging property owners to take advantage of the property tax credits, formerly known as exemptions, which were recently signed into law by Governor John P. deJongh Jr. According to Francis, property owners of record as of Jan. 1, 2007, have until May 30 to apply for tax credits against the 2006 property year.
The law does not permit property owners to receive more than two tax credits. "Rumors of multiple tax credits are unfounded," says Tax Assessor Roy Martin. "Property owners may not apply for more than two credits – homestead and any one of the other categories for which they may be eligible."
Property tax credits are offered in six categories. Two of these categories – for owners who have inherited less than five acres of unimproved property and the other a tax credit circuit-breaker applicable to property owners whose property tax bills have increased by 125% or more and whose gross income is less than $135,000 – are newly established. The Tax Assessors Office is presently accepting tax credit applications for the following categories:
1. General Homestead: Property owners who occupied the home as their primary residence as of January 1, 2007 are eligible. Applicants must show proof of residency by providing a valid United States Virgin Islands drivers license or voters registration card. Applicants are also asked to show proof of occupancy by providing a current utility bill. Maximum tax credit: $400.
2. Veterans: Property owners must meet occupancy requirements and been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Services. Applicants must provide a copy of their DD-214 at the time of filing, in addition to a valid USVI driver's license or voter registration card. Maximum tax credit: $650.
3. Seniors: Property owners must meet occupancy requirements. Applicants are also eligible to claim this credit for properties held by tenants in the entireties, if either spouse is 60 years or older on January 1, 2007. The credit is available only when individual Annual Gross Income (AGI) is less than $30,000 and household AGI does not exceed $50,000. Applicants are asked to provide a stamped copy of their 2006 tax return and proof of age at time of application. Maximum Tax Credit: $500
4. Disabled: Applicants must meet occupancy requirements and be suffering from a disability as determined by the Social Security Administration as of January 1, 2007. Applicants are required to provide documentation from the SSA at time of filing, as well as a stamped copy of their 2006 tax return. Maximum Tax Credit: $500
5. Class 1 inheritance: Applicants must be owners of unimproved property of 5.0 acres or less. The property owner must have acquired the property through inheritance. Tax Credit: Credit equal to 80 percent of the real property taxes levied until $5,000 or more of improvements are made on said property.
6. Tax Credit Circuit Breaker: Available to property owners whose property tax bills increased by 125 percent or more and whose household gross income is less than $135,000. Tax Credit: Credit equal to 40 percent of the real property tax increase for homestead and unimproved property. Tax credit not to exceed $5,000.
Property owners who have not applied for the tax credits, formerly known as exemptions, are encouraged to visit the Tax Assessors Office on their respective island, or contact the office at 776-8505 on St. Thomas, 776-6737 on St. John, 773-6459 for Christiansted, St. Croix or 772-3115 for the Frederiksted, St. Croix.

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