As we head into late summer, it is time to think about taxes. Lest you think I have lost my calendar — or worse — let me assure you that I am not referring to income taxes, but to the Maine Tax and Rent Circuit Breaker program, which provides tax relief for homeowners or renters of any age who live in Maine.
According to the state website at http://www.maine.gov, in order to be eligible for the general portion of the program, which is open to all ages, you must have been a resident of Maine and maintained a homestead here for all of 2010. You also must have lived in that homestead for at least six months during 2010.
Your total 2010 household income must have been not more than $64,950 for an individual who lived alone, or $86,600 for a person who lived with a spouse and-or one or more dependents.
Also, your 2010 property tax must have been more than 4 percent of your 2010 household income. If you are a renter, the rent you paid in 2010 must have been more than 20 percent of your 2010 household income.
To qualify for the senior citizen portion of the program, the residency guidelines are the same, but the age and income criteria change. You must have been age 62 or older in 2010, or 55 or older if disabled.
If applying under the disability provision and married, both applicant and spouse must have received federal disability payments. Your total 2010 household income must have been less than $14,700 for an individual who lived alone, or $18,200 for a person who lived with a spouse or with a dependent.
If you filed income tax, you will need a copy of your federal and Maine income tax returns for 2010 and a copy of your property tax bill or rent receipts. If you did not file a tax return for 2010, you will need your bank statements for 2010, the 1099 form that reports your 2010 Social Security earnings, papers that show any other earnings, and a copy of your property tax bill or rent receipts.
“We are hoping every senior will consider applying for the rebate,” said Susan Poole, Maine Tax and Rent Circuit Breaker program volunteer. She will be completing applications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging by appointment.
“Some people think that they don’t qualify, then are surprised when they get a check,” Poole said. It is best to ask us if you are unsure of your eligibility, and let us help you.”
Once you’ve shipped off your tax and rent application you can expect to see a rebate — providing you qualify — in four to six weeks. The Maine Revenue Service will figure the exact amount of your refund.
“Some folks complete the application themselves as it is just one page, front and back, and then want us to review it before it is sent, and we are happy to do that,” Poole said. “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.”
EAAA is taking appointments, so call us at 941-2865 or 800-432-7812 if you need help. Remember, time is money. The sooner you apply, the sooner you may have a little extra cash in your pocket.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email email@example.com or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.