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Volunteers Provide Free Help With State's Homeowner and Renter Assistance Forms

Trained volunteers are in a neighborhood near you to provide free help with answering questions and completing claim forms for the state's Homeowner and Renter Assistance (HRA) program, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

“Hundreds of volunteers are spending thousands of hours this filing season to assist those who need help with completing their claim forms,” said State Controller and chair of the Franchise Tax Board Kathleen Connell. “I want to thank this dedicated group for the valuable contributions they are making to our communities,” Connell said.

The volunteer assistance program will provide free claims help between July 1 through October 15. Budget constraints will prevent staff at FTB field offices from filling out claim forms so the FTB is relying on the state's network of volunteers more than ever this year. To locate the nearest volunteer site, visit FTB's Website at www.ftb.ca.gov, or call FTB at (800) 338-0505, your local Senior Citizens Information and Referral Service, or your state legislator's office.

The Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program provides a once-a-year payment from the state to qualified homeowners and renters based on property taxes directly paid by homeowners and indirectly paid by renters. For the 2002 claim year, qualified homeowners can receive a payment of up to $472.60, while renters can get up to $347.50. The FTB mailed booklets in mid-June to prior claimants. People new to the program can get the forms and instructions from the FTB's Website or by calling the FTB.

In addition to having paid property taxes on your home or paying at least $50 in rent during 2001, eligible claimants must have had a household income of $37,119 or less, or gross income of $67,490 or less, and have been at least 62 years of age or blind or disabled, regardless of age, on December 31, 2001.

The FTB encourages qualified claimants to file by October 15. Claimants may file their 2002 claim as late as June 30, 2003, but it will take a lot longer to get a check after October 15. After October, the FTB gets busy with income tax filing.

Last year this program attracted nearly 750,000 people and paid out more than $180 million in payments.