Rebates bringing $16 million to area

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Area residents will have an extra $16 million next month.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Area residents will have an extra $16 million next month.

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That’s how much Senate district 27 residents will receive from the $1.3 billion sales-tax rebate, according to Sen. Pat Piper, DFL-Austin, whose district covers all of Freeborn County and the most populated part of Mower County.

While the checks are scheduled to hit mailboxes in mid to late August, local lawmakers are concerned not everyone will get the money they deserve.

The checks are being sent out automatically based on 1997 income tax returns and property tax rebate forms, but Piper and Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, noted not all eligible residents filed those forms and the deadline has passed.

Piper said the hardest hit will likely be seniors who had no income to report and didn’t file for a property tax rebate. While she said some agencies saw a rush of filers in recent months, she still fears some will be missed.

&uot;I would hope they would have another chance,&uot; she said, noting the state Legislature could extend filing dates for those residents if a portion of the rebate remains unclaimed.

Dorman said he’s also been hearing of possible problems with people who had not filed tax forms last year.

While some residents have since filed the forms, Dorman said he’s heard of a possible glitch that rejected the forms for rebate purposes.

&uot;I was surprised that the Department of Revenue kicked those out,&uot; he said.

Dorman said he hopes the state will be able to work out any potential problems.

&uot;We don’t need to hassle our seniors with paperwork,&uot; he said.

Still, both lawmakers said the overall rebate process appears to be going well.

Rebates will range from $204 for single filers making less than $2,500 in 1997 to $5,000 for joint filers with incomes above $1 million. The lowest joint rebate will be $358.

On average, state residents will see a $630 rebate check in their mailboxes by Oct. 1.

Locally, 1996 census data indicates the average individual in Freeborn County will get a $496 check, while the average household can expect about $641.

Since the rebates are based on incomes from two years ago, Dorman and Piper noted there are chances that circumstances have changed.

While family size isn’t factored into the rebate formula, the Department of Revenue is preparing for spouses who may have filed jointly in 1997 but divorced later.

The current plan is to split rebates whenever there is enough information to send checks to both spouses. Otherwise, the couple would need to request a split or split it themselves.

In the case of people who have married since 1997, the household will receive two checks, one for each individual.

Piper also noted that checks will still be sent for the recently deceased.

&uot;That check will still come and go to their next of kin,&uot; she said.

Piper said she has received numerous call from people in all sorts of different circumstances, including former residents and part-time residents.

She said some people will have to wait to see what their rebates look like.

&uot;It’s going to be extremely interesting when the checks come out,&uot; she said.

Piper and Dorman said the extra money in residents’ pockets could mean good things for the state.

&uot;I think it’s really going to generate some retail sales,&uot; Dorman predicted, noting the checks will come at a time when people are looking for back-to-school supplies and late summer vacations.

He said the rebate plan is putting the state’s surplus in the right hands.

&uot;I think that’s where the money belongs – in the hands of hard-working mothers and fathers in the state of Minnesota,&uot; he said.

While she said she knows many will spend the money on items they want, Piper said she’s also hoping some residents will give the money to charities around the state. She said the United Methodist Church of Minnesota has already suggested its members do just that.

&uot;They said people should do some good charity with it,&uot; the senator said.

But, she also noted state residents on the lower end of the income scale will likely find special needs for the rebates.

&uot;For some people, a $204 check is a wonderful gift,&uot; she said.