Last Friday morning in the House Property Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Committee, I learned about the extra efforts of our hard-working Department of Revenue to increase public awareness – and use of – property tax refunds (popularly known as the Circuit Breaker or Renter’s Credit). Every year, about a third of homeowners and renters who are eligible for a property tax refund don’t apply for it. As the Minnesota Budget Project has highlighted in the past, the Circuit Breaker and Renter’s Credit are important – one in four Minnesotans received a refund in 2005. The average refund amount is no small potatoes – $591 for homeowners and $532 for renters. I’d be remiss myself if I didn’t provide information on how to apply for the homeowner’s Circuit Breaker and the Renter’s Credit.
This past year, the state has tried to increase public awareness by prominently advertising the Renter’s Credit and Circuit Breaker on the front and back page of the income tax instructions. The state has also convinced many counties to include information on the county property tax statement, which is mailed to every homeowner. Visit your local county office or public library, and you might see a new poster advertising the tax refund. And the property tax refund was one of three topics featured at the Department of Revenue’s state fair booth.
The House tax committee recognized the importance of expanded outreach efforts last legislative session, resulting in a tax bill that would have pumped up outreach efforts. Unfortunately, it fell victim to the Governor’s veto pen. That notwithstanding, the state is trying to go the extra mile. Kudos!