A change in eligibility requirements has contributed to a significant rise in the number of applications for the North Dakota Homestead Tax Credit this year, according to Ward County and the City of Minot.
The Ward County tax director's office has taken about 120 applications for the credit in 2013, while the city has taken about 325 applications, which compares to about 100 applications filed with the city last year.
The Homestead Tax Credit program provides a property-tax credit of up to $4,500 to residents aged 65 or older or who are permanently and totally disabled. They must meet income and asset requirements and live in a home that they own. The amount of the tax credit is based on income.
The 2013 North Dakota Legislature increased the income limit for eligibility to $42,000, up from $26,000 in 2012. Legislators increased the assets that people are able to maintain and still be eligible for the tax credit from $75,000 to $500,000.
Renters also can receive a credit of up to $400 if they meet the age or disability and income requirements.
Ward County tax director Pam Axtman said the county continues to get applications from residents who are just now learning about the program. Applications can be submitted at any time and are available on the North Dakota Tax Department website or from the county tax director or city assessor.
Minot city assessor Kevin Ternes said he believes there are more eligible residents who haven't yet applied. His office has been working through the media and senior organizations to inform residents of the changes and continues to try to get the word out, he said. The State Tax Department also conducted an informational mailing to seniors.