Property owners who receive the homestead deduction on their property tax have until Dec. 31 to verify their residency and that they are eligible to receive the deduction. The deduction reduces the taxable assessed value of owner-occupied property by $45,000.

A pink form to be filled out and mailed to the auditor's office should have been in the same envelope as the tax bill this year, last year or 2010 when the law went into effect.

The form requires people who own and occupy property to provide the last five digits of their Social Security number and their driver's license number. If a property is owned by a person but not his or her spouse, the spouse must provide the same information.

People who do not complete the homestead verification form "will automatically lose (the) homestead credit," Jefferson County Auditor Celeste Reed said in press release.

Property owners who do not remember receiving the form can take their driver's license and Social Security card to the county auditor's office on the first floor of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

People who do not have both kinds of numbers can call Reed's office, 265-8942 ext. 1942 to learn what else they can use, or check the state Department of Local Government Finance web site, www.in.gov/dlgf.

It is a one-time verification required by a state law aimed at stopping fraud by people who claim the deduction but do not use the property as their primary residence or who claim the deduction on more than one piece of property.

Property owners in all of Indiana's 92 counties are required to comply with the verification.

The information from the pink form will be used to create a homestead database "which will be used by county auditors to track homesteads statewide and prevent fraud," according to a Department of Local Government Finance fact sheet about the homestead verification form.

"Homestead fraud causes taxpayers who follow the law to pay more money," the fact she says. "This will help reduce taxes for all by ensuring that everyone shares equally in the property tax burden."

In addition to the homestead deduction, the assessor's office has sent out form F-11 assessment notices this week. The notice will give taxpayers information regarding previous assessments and what the new assessment will be for 2013.

The deadline to appeal the new assessed value is Jan. 4. Residents can review their assessment at www.jefferson.in.wthgis.com.