More North Dakota tenants may qualify for money back on their rent payments with the increase in the income and asset limits in the state Renter's Refund program this year.
The program provides refunds of up to $400 for renters older than 65 or renters who are permanently and totally disabled if they meet certain rent and income criteria. Mobile home lot rent is included. Applications for the refund must be received by the State Tax Department by May 31.
Already this year, 1,729 renters have applied, with an average refund of $267, according to the tax department. Last year, there were 2,284 refunds paid, averaging $255.
The 2013 Legislature raised the income eligibility from $26,000 a year to $42,000 and the asset limit from $150,000 to $500,000.
To be eligible for a refund, 20 percent of the rent paid must be more than 4 percent of 2013 income. For example, a renter with an income of $18,000 a year who paid $450 a month or $5,400 a year in rent would be eligible for a $360 refund. Twenty percent of $5,400 is $1,080, and 4 percent of $18,000 is $720. The refund is the difference between the two figures.
In another example, a renter with an income of $42,000 a year who pays $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year in rent would be eligible for a $400 refund. Twenty percent of $12,000 is $2,400, and 4 percent of $42,000 is $1,680. The difference is $720, but the refund is capped at $400.
To qualify as a result of disability, a person must have a letter from the Social Security Administration, certification from a physician or documentation as a disabled veteran.
Residents with questions about the program can contact the tax department at 328-3127 or 877-328-7088, option 6. The application and instructions are available on the department website at (www.nd.gov/tax/property/forms) under "applications."
Renters who qualify for refunds in 2014 will be placed on a mailing list to receive information about the 2015 refund program when it becomes available.
Mobile home residents who qualify for a partial refund of lot rent and own their mobile homes may also apply for the Homestead Tax Credit, which has the same eligibility requirements as the Renter's Refund program and can reduce the mobile home tax. Applications are available on the department website or from the local county director of tax equalization.