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Tax change targets mobile homes

Mobile home owners will have to learn a few new rules at the turn of the century.

Thursday, October 14, 1999

Mobile home owners will have to learn a few new rules at the turn of the century.

Early this year, the Ohio General Assembly approved sweeping changes to its manufactured home tax structure that should take effect Jan. 1, 2000.

"They just wanted a tax base that will better reflect how real estate taxes are assessed, so everybody’s treated the same," Lawrence County deputy auditor Chris Kline said. "In other words, they’re restructuring the mobile home tax so it’s like a real property tax."

But the new tax structure will pose difficulties for both owner and auditor, if it remains, Kline added.

"We haven’t sent out information yet because they’re working out the bugs," he said. "We’re waiting on the Legislature to fix the problems because there’s still a slim possibility that they may revoke it."

Taxes on mobile homes are assessed by using a percentage of a percentage of the sale price and then applying the tax rate, including any state reductions, Kline said.

The new law will base the taxes of any mobile home transferred after Jan. 1 on appraised values, as if it were real estate, he said.

"We will have to come up with a value and apply the taxes like it is real property," Kline said, meaning that taxes are applied to a percentage of a structure’s appraised value.

"Yet there’s no set way to do it," he said.

Lawmakers didn’t write guidelines on how to appraise mobile homes – merely passed a mandate on local officials, Kline said.

An existing contract with the appraising company that already conducts the every-six-year county property reassessment will likely have to be amended to obtain values of the county’s mobile homes, he said.

Because anyone already taxed under the old system, and paying on their homes, may decide to remain taxed that way, as allowed by state statute, the county must also keep two sets of property records, Kline said.

Mobile home owners who transfer their mobile home to another person have no choice, they must accept the new tax structure plan, he said.

And, although the new tax structure has been approved for some time, the county auditor was not notified of the changes or a new requirement that trailers must have a permit to be moved, until June, Kline said.

"They left it up to auditors, but the state needs to set guidelines on how we need to approach this," he said. "We’ve gone to meetings and asked questions and the people from the state department say they never thought about that "

What, if any, breaks taxpayers will receive with the new rate structure depends on what they have chosen to pay, Kline said.

If you’re paying the minimum and switch, then tax bills might go up, while if the trailer is brand new, the new system will probably be less, he said.

Mobile homeowners can request a summary of the costs of both options from the auditor’s office, Kline said.