What happens to my Homestead Rebate if I move?

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Q. I have filed for our 2017 Homestead Rebate. How will we get the rebate if we sell our home in January 2020. Then how do we file for the 2018 and 2019 rebates? And will we be able to file for a 2020 rebate for our new residence?
— Senior

A. If you sell your home, getting your rebate is a little more complicated.

Had you known you were selling when you submitted the application, you would have had an easier time, said Michael Karu, a certified public accountant with Levine, Jacobs & Co. in Livingston.

The state’s website spells it out pretty clearly.

“If you sell your home before filing your Homestead Benefit application (or you plan to close on the sale before December 2, 2019), you should answer “No” to the question asking whether you still own the property when you file your application (question 7 on the paper application). We will issue your Homestead Benefit by check (or direct deposit),” it said.

It also addresses what happens if you sell your home after filing the application.

“The Homestead Benefit will reduce the tax bill of the person who owns the property on the date the benefit is paid. This means that if you indicated you still own the home when filing your application, and later sell it, the only way to receive your 2017 Homestead Benefit is to take credit for the benefit at the closing of your property sale. If you plan to sell your home, discuss these instructions with your attorney or closing agent so they can negotiate on your behalf,” it said.

So basically, you can negotiate a refund of that benefit, or a change in the sale price of the home, with the person who buys your home.

As for future years, we don’t yet know where the benefit will stand for the 2018 tax year and beyond, so you’ll have to check back after the state lets us know.

To be safe, try to negotiate it all as part of the sale of your home.

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This story was originally published on Nov. 26, 2019.

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