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MN 2020 touts rebates as helping to relieve "most unfair" tax

BEMIDJI -- Matt Entenza had a message for Bemidji homeowners and renters Wednesday: there's money on the way.

The former DFL legislator and gubernatorial candidate held a press conference in City Hall to highlight renewed funding for two tax rebate programs under Gov. Mark Dayton: the homestead credit refund and the renter's credit refund. The average Bemidji homeowner could see a property tax reduction of almost 19 percent with the refund factored in, Entenza said, but they need to apply for the homestead credit refund first. He urged homeowners and renters to check to see if they qualified for the rebates, which Entenza said would benefit the local economy as well as their own checkbooks.

"As long as people file for it, they could potentially get hundreds of dollars in their wallets," he said. "That's going to be great for Main Street."

Entenza held the conference as a senior fellow of Minnesota 2020, a progressive think tank. The Bemidji conference was one stop on a statewide tour promoting the rebate programs.

Entenza said the homestead credit rebate requires an income of less than $105,000 per year, but most households around Bemidji would fall under that threshold.

"That... is substantially more than the average household income the Northland, so virtually everyone in this region will qualify," he said.

The homestead credit also benefits northern Minnesota in that it helps the many seniors that live in the region, Entenza said.

"Property taxes are the least fair tax," he said. "The tax is not based on (people's) ability to pay. It's hitting seniors and others particularly hard, and here in the Northland, we know that we have more seniors and retirees on average than many other parts of the state."

If homeowners and renters didn't file for the rebates along with their tax returns Tuesday they can still do it but the deadline is fast approaching, Entenza said. The deadline for both rebates is Aug. 15. The forms can be downloaded and filed online at the Minnesota Department of Revenue website and are also available in paper form at many local libraries.