Leg. proposes renters’ credit increase

Funding for renters’ credit has decreased since 2009.

Janice Bitters

Jasmine Hardin is living away from home for the first time this year, and while she enjoys living closer to school, making rent can be difficult.

Hardin, a senior at the University of Minnesota, shares an apartment with two others and pays $600 per month, which she said is expensive for a full-time student.

“For $600 each, they are making a lot of money,” she said. “I’m struggling tremendously.”

Low-income renters, like students, can recover some of what they paid for rent, but how much they get back has decreased in recent years. With a new bill that could pass in the state Legislature in the coming weeks, students like Hardin could get more money.

Low-to-medium income renters can currently get up to $1,600 depending on several factors, including income and cost of rent, but the bill would boost the number of Minnesotans eligible for the credit and how much they receive.

“This bill will help all low-income renters and put more money in their pockets,” said Rep. Will Morgan, DFL-Burnsville. “That is something that was taken away from them two years ago, and we are giving some of that back.”

Funding to the renters’ credit program was steady for 10 years until 2009 but has fluctuated since. The proposal working through the Legislature would bring refunds closer to the 2008 levels.

In 2011, more than 87,000 households in Hennepin County received an average refund of nearly $700, according to the Minnesota Budget Project, a tax research and advocacy group.

In order for students to be eligible for the renters’ credit, they must file their taxes independent from their parents and be a Minnesota resident for at least part of the year.

Hardin hopes to claim the renters’ credit for the first time after paying rent in 2013. She said any increase helps.

“[The credit] has a big impact,” she said. “I feel like a lot of students and low-income families are struggling to pay rent and … that’s something to look forward to.”

How to apply

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, landlords are required to give renters a completed Certificate of Rent Paid every year. The form shows how much rent and property taxes were paid during the previous year.

For those living with roommates, the CRP should show each person in the house or apartment paying an equal portion of the rent, even if some roommates paid different rates, according to the MDR.

The deadline for filing claims based on rent paid in 2012 is Aug. 15, 2014, and can be filed through the MDR website or by mail.

The proposal made its way into both the House and Senate Tax Omnibus bills last week.

If passed, the renters’ credit legislation will increase refunds for 2013, allowing some Minnesotans to get a higher refund when they file in 2014.