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Attn: Qualified Homeowners and Renters - Time to Get Those Checks

Released: July 5, 2007

Eligible homeowners can get nearly $500 and renters can get nearly $350

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) today urged more than 600,000 eligible Californians to take advantage of assistance payments from the Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program.

“Last year, we issued more than $180 million in checks to elderly and disabled Californians who were happy to have that extra cash in their pockets,” said State Controller and FTB Chair John Chiang. “I encourage all eligible Californians to take advantage of a terrific program designed to help those who need it most.”

To qualify, homeowners must have owned and lived in their home at the end of 2006 and have a household income of $42,770, or less. Renters must have paid $50 or more in rent per month and meet the same income limits. Claimants must have been blind, disabled, or at least 62 years old on December 31, 2006, and must also be a U.S. citizen, designated alien, or qualified alien when the claim is filed. Renters living in tax-exempt housing do not qualify.

The state offers free assistance for completing the claim forms that eligible individuals need to file to receive their checks. To find help, visit the FTB's Website at www.ftb.ca.gov, call your local Senior Citizens Information and Referral Service, or call your state legislator's office. The FTB also is available to answer questions and provide general assistance over the phone by calling 800.868.4171.

This year, the FTB is providing instructions in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, and Korean, as well as English. Translated copies are available on-line only through the Website.

The Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program benefit is based on the amount of property taxes paid by homeowners and indirectly paid by renters. Eligible homeowners can receive a payment of up to $472.50, while renters can receive up to $347.50. The FTB began mailing claim booklets in mid-June to prior year recipients. Eligible individuals can also get the claim form from the FTB's Website. The FTB administers the program from July 2 through October 15, although claims can be filed as late as June 30, 2008. To avoid payment-processing delays, the FTB strongly advises claimants to file by the October deadline. The FTB will authorize payments once the state budget is signed.

Another program of interest to qualified homeowners is the Property Tax Postponement Program. Available through the State Controller's Office, this program allows eligible homeowners to postpone payment of their property taxes on their principal place of residence. For more information regarding this program, visit the State Controller's Website at www.sco.ca.gov.