As summer dissolves into memory, it is time to think about taxes. Lest you think I have lost my calendar, let me assure you I am not referring to income taxes, but to tax and rent refunds from the Maine Revenue Service.
The Maine Residents Property Tax and Rent Refund Program provides tax relief for homeowners or renters of any age who live in Maine. However, to receive a refund, you must meet the following qualifying guidelines for the general program:
ä You were a Maine resident for the entire 12 months of 2007.
ä You owned or rented a home in Maine for all of 2007 and lived in it for at least six months.
ä You lived alone and had a total household income in 2007 of up to $60,000, or you lived with a spouse or dependent and had a total household income in 2007 of up to $80,000.
ä You had a 2007 property tax bill that was more than 4 percent of total household income, or you paid rent in 2007 that was more than 20 percent of total household income — unless you were age 62 or older as of Dec. 31, 2007, and your income was below $13,600 for one, or $16,800 for two.
“We want seniors to be careful of self-screening because sometimes they could actually be eligible for the refund and not realize it,” said Val Sauda, director of community services at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “It is best to ask if you may be eligible.”
EAAA has the form available and consultants are trained to help any person age 60 or older with completing it. You will need to have, if you filed income tax, a copy of your federal and Maine income tax return for 2007 and a copy of your property tax bill for 2007, or rent receipts.
If you did not file a tax return for 2007, you will need your bank statements for 2007, the 1099 form that reports your 2007 Social Security earnings, papers that show any other earnings, and a copy of your property tax bill or rent receipts. The deadline for filing is June 1, 2009.
If you filed for a refund last year, your application should be mailed to you automatically. Once you’ve completed the form and mailed it off, you can expect to see a check, providing you qualify, in a few weeks. The Maine Revenue Service will figure your refund.
“Some folks complete the application themselves — it is just one page front and back — and want us to review it before it is sent, and we are happy to do that,” Sauda added. “We can also talk seniors through the process on the phone or, if they prefer, we’ll sit down with them and complete the application together.”
Remember that time is money. The sooner you apply, the sooner you may have a little extra cash in your pocket.
For information about other property tax relief programs such as the Homestead Exemption, Veterans’ Exemption or tax abatement, contact your town office.
EAAA staff is available to assist with completion of forms if you need that assistance.
Another way to get senior information is to join me for “Senior Talk” on WVOM-FM 103.9, The Voice of Maine, at 6:30 a.m. Saturdays and at its new time, 8 p.m. Sundays. This half-hour show is designed with seniors in mind. Tune in and give a listen. “Senior Talk” will no longer air on WABI-AM 910.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free (800) 432-7812, e-mail email@example.com or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.