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Jim Davnie: Minnesotans, remember your property tax refund

Jim Davnie

ST. PAUL — Every year as the month of August arrives, Minnesotans realize that summer quickly will be drawing to a close. Before Herald readers in Minnesota make plans to enjoy one last lake trip or county fair, it’s important to remember that time to file their Minnesota property tax refund also is quickly running out.

Tomorrow — Friday, Aug. 15 — is the deadline for homeowners and renters to file for their property tax refund. And due to our action at the Legislature these past two years, there is a good chance their refund is larger.

In fact, nearly a million Minnesotans will see an increase in their property tax refund this year.

As the chairman of the Minnesota House Property and Local Tax Division over the past two years, I worked closely with DFL legislators to make sure we were putting more money back into the pockets of families from every corner of the state in the form of increased property tax refunds. We made direct property tax relief a priority because in the previous two years — and really the previous decade — Minnesotans experienced big property tax hikes.

Over the past decade, property taxes increased year after year as the state shifted more funding burden onto local property tax payers in order to patch-over budget deficits. The property tax hikes were especially bad in 2011, when the Republican-led Legislature eliminated the Homestead Credit, leading to $365 million in property tax increases.

We chose a different path in 2013 and 2014. In total, we passed $177 million in direct property tax relief, increasing refunds for Minnesotans receiving the Homestead Credit Refund and Renter’s Credit. Nearly 1 million Minnesotans will see more property tax relief as a result.

We provided this property tax relief in a couple of ways. First, we expanded the Homestead Credit Refund. More than 500,000 homeowners will see their property tax refund grow, and 100,000 new homeowners will receive the refund.

Second, we increased the renter’s credit, which the previous Legislature had tried to cut. About 350,000 renters will see an average 6 percent increase in their renter property tax credit. We also provided a $130 million increase in Local Government Aid to help stabilize local budgets that had seen big reductions over the past decade.

In total, our efforts have helped bring down property taxes for the first time in more than a decade. When local property tax levies are combined with our increase in refunds, property taxes are expected to go down this year by 6 percent for Greater Minnesota homeowners.

On net, property taxes are going down by $50 million in Minnesota this year — the first drop in property taxes since 2002. It’s important to note that we achieved these property tax decreases even as many home values are rebounding as part of the continued economic recovery.

Holding down property taxes keeps more money in the pockets of middle-class families in our communities throughout the state. As policymakers, we must continue to work on this issue. We should maintain and strengthen the state-local partnership.

And we must not go backwards with policies that were implemented in 2011 and took property tax relief away from homeowners and renters.

Before tomorrow, be sure to check with the Minnesota Department of Revenue to see if you qualify for a property tax refund or increase. To look up eligibility requirements and application instructions, Minnesotans can visit or call the Department of Revenue at 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094.

And enjoy the rest of the summer.

State Rep. Davnie, a DFLer, represents Minneapolis in the Minnesota House.