Senator Dan Sparks: Check your property tax refund status

Minnesotans owning homestead property should have Oct. 16 marked on the calendar as the date that the second half of 2017 property taxes are due. Since the usual due date of Oct. 15 falls on a Sunday, taxpayers have until the following business day to pay taxes owed.

Whether you will be sending a check by that date or have already paid, all Minnesotans should review their eligibility for a state-paid property tax refund. Eligibility status can change from year to year so even if you haven’t qualified in the past, it’s worth double-checking this year.

In general, homeowners who owned and lived in their home on Jan. 2, 2016, and Jan. 2, 2017, and have a household income of less than $108,660 may qualify for a maximum refund of $2,660. There also is Special Homestead Credit Refund that is not subject to income limits. To qualify, the net property tax on a homestead must have increased by more than 12 percent from 2016 to 2017 and more than $100, and the increase cannot be the result of home improvements. The maximum Special Refund is $1,000.

It’s important to note that household income is different than taxable income reported on state income tax returns. Household income takes into account various other forms of income to ensure the limited property tax refund revenue is directed toward those most in need. The refund form will guide you toward calculating your total household income.

Renters also should consider applying for a property tax refund. Although renters do not directly pay property taxes, the cost of this expense is built into rents charged by landlords. In general, a renter’s household income for 2016 must be less than $58,880, and the maximum refund is $2,060.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has improved efforts to keep taxpayers informed of their refund’s status in recent years. The Revenue department is, unfortunately, a big target for cyber-criminals because of the type of information it collects, but the agency also has one of the most robust systems for protecting taxpayer information. Part of that system includes individual monitoring of any irregular information or activity. It’s a necessary step that sometimes causes lags between when information is received and when refunds are paid out.

If you are concerned about the status of your refund, you may visit http://www.revenue.state.mn.us and click on “Where’s My Refund.” This will guide you through a few steps to determine whether your application is under review or complete. This website also provides all forms and information needed to apply for a property tax refund.

Some agricultural land owners have been asking about the School Building Bond Agricultural Tax Credit approved by the legislature last session. Through this $35 million investment, agricultural land owners will see an automatic, state-paid credit on 2018 property tax statements that will be mailed next spring. The credit is equal to 40 percent of property taxes attributable to local school bond referenda, including previously passed levies as well as new ones that may be approved this fall. A bipartisan group of lawmakers from rural Minnesota pushed for this credit to take some pressure off local farmers while providing rural schools a better path to improve facilities the way metro-area schools are able.

If you have any questions about these or any other property tax issues, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I also encourage you to keep an eye out for proposed 2018 property tax statements that will be sent in November, and to attend Truth in Taxation meetings that will be held before the end of the year. It’s the best place to provide feedback to your local elected officials.

My contact information is sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn or 651-296-9248. You also can keep track of what the legislature is doing on the website, www.senate.mn, where you can sign up to follow committees of interest or receive other notifications.

Senator Dan Sparks
Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.

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