Remember to file for property tax refunds

Published 12:46 pm Saturday, March 26, 2011

Column: Senate Report, by Dan Sparks

This week, I was able to listen to a very interesting discussion with the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and the state’s new Agriculture Commissioner, Dave Frederickson. The luncheon was in celebration of National Ag Day, a chance to recognize successful area farmers and remember the importance of agriculture to our nation’s economy and food supply.

Dan Sparks

Commissioner Frederickson talked a lot about what’s happening at the state level regarding agriculture this year. He noted the Department of Agriculture will be impacted by budget cuts to solve the $5 billion state budget deficit, but he also said he’s been working with lawmakers to ensure those cuts don’t damage the long-term viability of Minnesota farms.

We will be asked to vote on an Agriculture budget, as well as about 10 other budget proposals this week. Lawmakers are meeting over the weekend and throughout next week to meet the March 25 deadline to have budget proposals passed out of their original committees. There are many important details being discussed in a very short timeline — to remain updated, please visit the Senate website at

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Outside of the Capitol, most Minnesotans are working to complete 2010 income taxes. Each year, I remind homeowners and renters — including residents in nursing or other facilities whose rent is not entirely covered by assistance — to check whether they qualify for a property tax refund. Taxpayers must fill out a separate form, aside from the standard income tax return, in order to apply for the rebate.

Property tax refunds are based on household income and the property taxes paid on a principal place of residence. As a homeowner, you may be eligible for either the regular property tax refund or the special property tax refund if you owned and lived in your home on Jan. 2, 2011.

For the regular property tax refund, your total household income for 2010 must be less than $99,240 and the maximum available refund is $2,370. The income eligibility limits do increase if you have dependents in your household, to $121,140 with five or more dependents. The refund you are eligible to receive depends on the ratio of income to total property taxes paid.

The special property tax refund is not based on income. Instead, the net property tax on your homestead must have increased by more than 12 percent from 2010-2011 — not due to improvements on the home — and the increase must be at least $100. The maximum refund is $1,000.

To receive a renter’s property tax refund, total household income for 2010 must be less than $53,540 and the maximum available refund is $1,520. Again, that income limit increases with dependents, up to $75,440 for households with five or more dependents. Renters’ refunds are based on a percentage of total rent paid throughout the year and you must have received a certificate of rent paid form from your landlord. Those were due to renters by Jan. 31 so if you have not yet received yours, you should check with your landlord.

Seniors and disabled persons living in non-tax-exempt nursing home or health care facilities who are not solely paying for their rooms with medical assistance or other supplemental assistance funding may also qualify for renters’ refunds.

To apply for all of these refunds, Minnesotans must file a Form M1PR. This form is separate from regular income tax returns and is available either on the Department of Revenue’s website,, or at local libraries and other facilities that distribute tax information. The due date for 2010 property tax refund applications is Aug. 15, 2011.

Finally, I also would like to remind disabled veterans of a special property tax exemption. Applications to receive this exemption are due by July 1, so it is worthwhile to talk to your county assessor now about applying if you believe you may qualify. You may be eligible for a market value exclusion of up to $300,000 if you are a United States military veteran with a total and permanent service-connected disability. If you are not totally and permanently disabled but have disability of 70 percent or more, then you may qualify for $150,000 market value exclusion. Applications are filed with county assessors, and application materials may be obtained there or on the state’s website.

All application forms and additional information are available at or by calling the Department of Revenue at 1-800-652-9094.

Please feel free to contact me about visiting the Capitol or any other issue at:; 651-296-9248; Room 19 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.

Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is the state senator for District 27.