School districts: Annual December 31 filing deadline to seek real estate tax exemption is near


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While Ohio law presumes that all real estate is taxable, school districts can achieve substantial tax savings by seeking exemption from real property taxation for property that they own or use for qualifying purposes.

School districts can seek exemption from real property taxation beginning with the first year following the year the school district acquires or begins using a property for qualifying purposes. School districts can also seek a refund of taxes for up to three preceding years. A school district must own or use the property for qualifying purposes as of the January 1 “tax lien date” to achieve exemption for any tax year.

Importantly, once a school district achieves exemption, the property continues to remain exempt until the county returns the property to the tax list. In other words, school districts do not typically need to refile for exemption annually for property that is already exempt.

A school district should file a property tax exemption application when:

  • The school district acquires new real estate;
  • The school district adds new construction to previously exempt real estate; and
  • The school district owns or uses for qualifying purposes any other real estate that is currently taxable.

School districts bear the burden of proving their qualification for exemption from real estate taxation. School districts should review their tax bills annually to determine if all or any portion of the parcels they own or use may have been returned to the tax list or otherwise qualify for exemption under Ohio law.

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