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It's Time for Eligible Homeowners and Renters To Apply for State Assistance Payments

The filing period for the 2003 Homeowner and Renter Assistance program starts today and runs through October 15, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). While the filing period begins today, payment cannot be made by the state until a budget is adopted.

“Thousands of our elderly and disabled citizens depend on these annual payments,” said State Controller and Chair of the Franchise Tax Board Steve Westly. “Since I am prohibited from issuing these assistance checks until the budget is passed, here is yet another reason the Legislature needs to quickly pass a budget,” added Westly.

New this year, forms for both renters and homeowners are included in one booklet. To receive the assistance payment, qualified claimants simply fill out the state's claim form and send it to the FTB. The new combined booklet was mailed in June to all prior-year claimants on record. Claimants new to the program can download the form from the FTB's Website at www.ftb.ca.gov or order one by calling (800) 338-0505.

The Homeowner and Renter Assistance program provides a once-a-year payment from the state to qualified homeowners and renters based on property taxes paid directly by homeowners and indirectly by renters. For the 2003 claim year, homeowners can receive a payment of up to $472.60, while renters can receive up to $347.50.

To qualify, homeowners must have owned and lived in their home at the end of 2002, have a household income of $37,676 or less, or gross income of $68,502 or less (see instructions for details), and be a U.S. citizen, designated alien, or qualified alien when the claim is filed. Renters must pay $50 or more in rent per month and meet the above household income limits and residency requirements. In addition, claimants must have been blind, disabled, or at least 62 years of age on December 31, 2002.

Budget constraints prevent staff at the FTB field offices from filling out claim forms. However, free help is available. A statewide volunteer program staffs sites throughout the state and will provide free help completing the claim forms through October 15. To locate the nearest volunteer site, call the Franchise Tax Board or visit their Website. Individuals can also contact their local Senior Citizens Information and Referral Service or their state legislator's office for help with locating free claims assistance.