As we morph into a society increasingly obsessed with tracking its members and assembling as much personal private data as possible in mega-databases, I would never have dreamed that my Homestead Exemption would become a vehicle to gather personal data.

In an effort to thwart non-existent homestead fraud – and  I say nonexistent because the letter comes with a qualifier that states, “as the receipt of this deduction becomes more beneficial, there is more incentive than ever for homestead fraud.”  Not even a hint at existing fraud, just the fleeting possibility in the future.

To combat this nonexistent threat, the General Assembly passed a law that requires homeowners to re-verify their homestead exemptions.  The unexpected request was included in the just-received tax bills and requires completion of a form that mandates inclusion of social security information and driver’s license information.

Now, I do understand social security numbers may very well be a part of verifying hometead exemptions.  But, come on, driver’s license information?  What possible link can a driver’s license have to verification of my homestead exemption?

It is bad enough that we can’t smile, can’t have “bangs” on our foreheads, can’t wear glasses – all to make it easier for the biometrics police to identify us. It is bad enough that by 2016, we will have to produce a stack of paper work just to get a driver’s license.  It is bad enough that to fly, airports will – more and more – implement invasive x-ray strip-search technology.

And now, to add injury to insult, the government has figured out how to use the Homestead Exemption – for heaven’s sake – to gather more personal information.

The Department of Local Government Finance “will use this information to create tools that will help county officials eliminate homestead fraud.”   Tools that do not even exist – to eliminate homestead fraud that does not exist.

I will ask again, what on earth does having a driver’s license have to do with taking a Homestead Exemption?

Author’s Note:  The Sunday JG had an article about this topic.  The argument is that people may have a driver’s license in another state and/or county and try to take advantage of duplicate homestead exemptions.  No stats were provided as to actual fraud – only vague statements that it can be an issue, and, once in a while a violation is found.   Sounds like overkill to catch a small number of violators.  Sorry, still sounds to me like just one more way to track citizens.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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  1. john b. kalb says:

    Charlotte- The problem this is being used to correct, is where a couple lists one residence in his name and another(like a lake cottage) in her name – then, unlawfully, claiming both as homesteads. The use of driver’s license to catch these seems reasonable to me.

  2. John:

    I “understand” the government’s rationale of the driver’s license request; however, I do not agree with it. The article had little or no statistics as to the actual occurrence of fraud. Instead, just vague references to possible issues in counties with lakes and second homes. This is simply a law that was passed because it could be passed. After all, who wants to give up $45,000+ in credits? My property taxes went up again anyways. The millage was increased – and the assessed value was also increased.

    So much for tax relief and property tax caps. As I wrote some time ago, tax caps are worthless. All that has to be done is raise the assessed value and the millage rates. Either of these figures can be manipulated.

    In addition, no “tools” have even been created to implement the incoming glut of driver’s license information – which will happen since no one will be able to claim the Homestead without providing the information.

    It is little comfort that the government says the info is confidential and won’t be used or let out.

    What I find curious, and I have to note this, you and many others I know – some of my close friends as well – have a distrust for government, yet we are constantly being required to provide personal information with literally any rationale that the government provides. I find this tactic of constantly gathering government information just as distasteful and harmful to our freedoms you and millions of citizens feel about the programs that Obama is implementing.

    Homestead exemptions are not national security issues. And besides, the state already has a driver’s license database. Why create another one? The government could simply run the person’s social security or address or other information and locate the driver’s license that way assuming access is provided to the government.

    Cost wise, the government is spending thousands to do this, so why not access a source that is already created and in place?

    And, just think how this may tie in to the REAL ID Act of 2005 – another invasive government tactic with which I disagree.

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