Trends in sales and property tax relief programs for elderly South Dakotans

Added February 1st, 2012 by

Senate Bill 194 Sales and property tax relief for elderly persons and persons with a disability.

Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear SB 194 Thursday morning, 2-2-12.  South Dakota has a long-standing program that provides sales and property tax relief to the elderly and disabled poor.  Program eligibility is determined by a fixed dollar income amount, not an amount adjusted for inflation, such as the Federal Poverty Index (FPI). 

Because eligibility increases have not kept up with inflation, the number of households able to take advantage of the program has eroded over time.  Fifteen years ago the program was helping almost 5,700 households with almost $1.2 million of relief.  By FY 11 the resources distributed through the program had fallen by over 50%, dropping to less than $500,000 and helping only 2,392 households.  In 1990, elderly and disabled with incomes at 143% of the FPL were eligible for the program.  Today, even with the increases proposed in SB 194, South Dakotans won’t qualify unless their incomes are below 94% of the FPL (for singles) or 91% of the FPL (for households of two).  According to census data over 12,000 South Dakota elders are living in poverty. 

To be eligible, applicants must have an annual household income below $10,500 for single individuals or $13,750 for households.  Over 80% of the applications denied for this program (1,663 applicants denied between 2002 and 2010) were denied based on income eligibility.

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