A possible slam on renters

March 31, 2008

by Kristen Miller

I, being a renter, recently became aware of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s proposal to skimp on our renter’s credit.

It’s bad enough I have to rent instead of own. Now, the little income I do receive back from the government might become even less.

The governor’s proposal would add approximately $34 million to the state’s budget, but leave less in my pocket, not to mention the 29 percent of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities who also rent, as reported by Jeff Van Wychen from Minnesota 2020.

The rest of the renters in the state are mostly college students and those with low-paying jobs. Either way, why should the low-income renters be targeted?

I’m just wondering if there is another way this could be handled?

Granted, it’s only a 3 percent loss (16 percent, down from 19 percent of rent recognized as property tax), but when you are basically throwing money away every month, that 3 percent is a commodity.

Maybe this is just the governor’s way of getting us renters to buy up the houses left sitting on the market.

Then again, the former owners had to go somewhere after foreclosing and are probably renting now, as well.

Not only can everyone not afford to buy a house, but the elderly and disabled more than likely can no longer take care of a house and the property that comes with it.

Van Wychen writes in his article, “Over the last several years, a larger percentage of the total tax burden in Minnesota has been shifted onto low-income households. The governor’s attempt to balance the state’s budget deficit by increasing the property tax burden borne by renters will shift even more of the state’s tax burden onto households with the least ability to pay.”

What sense does this make? Let us, who are already struggling to make ends meet, take the hit for our state’s shortfalls?

I’ll admit, with this being a rebate, you really can’t miss what you don’t have.

The rebate doesn’t come until August and 3 percent isn’t likely to make that much of difference for me anyway. But those who pay much more in rent will see quite a difference.

I just recently got my 2007 Certificate of Rent Paid document. If the proposed 16 percent does come into effect, the amount recognized as property tax would go down $137. I have yet to determine how much less my actual rebate would be.

It’s more the fact that the low-income renters, which include the elderly and disabled, will be getting the shaft.

Then again, renters don’t always see the impact from the increases in property taxes, either. But this is also one of the reasons why we can’t afford to be homeowners.

I know that a house payment wouldn’t cost that much more than the rent I currently pay every month, but when you think about the property taxes, higher costs for utilities, not to mention the cost of up-keep and maintenance, I am undoubtedly saving money.

Van Wychen ended his article saying, “The governor and legislature should seek solutions to the state’s budget problems that do not involve inflicting further pain on Minnesota’s most financially vulnerable residents.”