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Rebate program cuts proposed

CARSON CITY -- Nevada residents age 62 and older got some bad news Monday: The property tax rebate checks that many of them receive were cut by 2.9 percent by the state Board of Examiners.

The board, chaired by Gov. Jim Gibbons, cut the average rebate qualifying residents will receive by about $10 a year.

People age 62 and older with household incomes of less than $27,863 are eligible for rebates on the property taxes they paid during the previous year.

Typically there is enough money to cover all costs, but the $5.2 million appropriated by the Legislature for this year's program fell short.

Carol Sala, the administrator of the Division of Aging Services, said that 4,000 more people applied during this year's enrollment period than did the previous year.

That is a sign that older residents are struggling financially and need the rebate checks, Sala said. "We have been getting 120 calls a day from senior citizens asking where their checks are."

Sala said the rebates also had to be reduced because her agency lost $243,000 in the statewide budget cuts required by the administration and Legislature because of the economic downturn.

If the rebate cut is backed by the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee in a meeting Nov. 20, then Sala said most will have their checks by mid-December.

About 12,711 residents will receive rebate checks averaging $334.

People age 62 and older are eligible for up to $500 a year in rebates. Besides the income limit, people cannot receive rebates if they have liquid assets of more than $150,000 or a home with an assessed value greater than $200,000.

Sala said 3,200 people with incomes below the federal poverty level of $10,211 a year already have received their full rebate checks.

The state of Nevada has operated the property tax rebate program for residents age 62 and older since the 1970s. Some people, however, might not be aware that they could qualify for the rebates, Sala said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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