Need cash? See if you qualify for property tax refund -- even if you're renting

People line up at the Hennepin County Government Center.
People line up at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis to prepay their 2018 property taxes on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Minnesotans have a little less than a month to file for property tax refunds for 2016. The deadline is Aug. 15.

Homeowners with a total household income up to about $110,000 are eligible. Refunds have averaged about $900 lately.

But only about two-thirds of eligible homeowners file for refunds.

"Sometimes, people think they may not qualify," said Cynthia Rowley, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Revenue. "Or they don't think they would get a large refund if they file."

The Revenue Department has been trying to spread the word about the refunds through the social and mainstream media outlets and other channels.

A few years ago, the department sent notices to about 46,000 homeowners who seemed to qualify for refunds of at least $1,000 but had not filed returns to get the money.

There are property tax refunds for renters, too. Last year, more than 330,000 renters claimed refunds averaging $654.

The renter credit is based on an estimate of the portion of rent that goes to pay property taxes.

Tracy Fischman is not surprised many people leave money on the table. She is executive director of Prepare + Prosper, a Twin Cities nonprofit that provides free tax advice.

"There are certainly renters who may not know about the opportunity to claim the renters credit," she said. "They may be new to the state. So, they didn't have any idea that this was available to them because it wasn't available in the state that they came from."