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Opinion: Two tax breaks available for property owners

On Nov. 5, voters in the Detroit Lakes School District will be going to the polls to determine if they will grant the school district bonding authority for $59 million in capital improvements across the district. Over the past few weeks, the school district has made many presentations throughout the community on the capital projects contained in the proposal. The presentations have focused on solutions to create more space in our buildings, address security concerns that exist in our buildings and provide for flexible learning spaces to address the differentiated learning styles amongst the learners in our buildings.

If voters approve the project, the district will issue up to $59 million in bonds, and payments on those bonds will be financed by property taxes over the next 20 years. The purpose of this article is to inform district residents that there are a couple different property tax refund programs that may provide some tax relief as it relates to the school district’s bonding proposal. First, there is a Minnesota Property Tax Refund or “Circuit Breaker” that is available to all owners of homesteaded property. For income taxes payable in 2013, a party is eligible for this “circuit breaker” refund provided their annual income is less than $105,500. A person meeting that income requirement might be eligible for a refund of up to (the maximum amount of) $2,580. In order to determine one’s eligibility, state tax form M1-PR must be completed.

The second refund is called the “Targeted Homeowners Property Tax Refund.” This particular refund can be applied to all homesteaded properties that experience a net property tax increase of 12 percent or $100 over the prior year. The refund is 60 percent of the amount by which the tax increase exceeds the greater of 12 percent or $100. The maximum refund is $1,000 per taxpayer. This refund is particularly beneficial in the first year of a new bond issue as is the case if the school district building bond proposal would pass on Nov. 5. Again, to determine one’s eligibility for the Targeted Homeowners Property Tax Refund, please complete the state tax form M1-PR.

These two refund opportunities are available to property owners, and if you have further questions, feel free to contact me at 218-847-9271 or your county auditor’s office. - (Doug Froke is superintendent of the Detroit Lakes School District)