There was cause for some celebration Wednesday morning when tax commissioner Cory Fong, along with members of the Minot-area legislative delegation, discussed the 2011 River Flood State Sales Tax Refund program provided in the House Bill 1459 that was passed by the 2013 Legislative Assembly.
Fong announced that homeowners whose primary residence was affected by the 2011 river flooding might be eligible for a refund of state sales tax paid for certain purchases.
Devastation and destruction from the 2011 flood is still present, Fong said in his introduction, and people are still displaced, but he also appreciated and understood the rehabilitation and rebuilding stages.
"This is a time when communities come together and Minot can be proud of that," he said
During the 2013 Legislative Assembly, the refund program for the 2011 flooding was approved.
"The Flood Refund program is one way that the state can provide some relief to homeowners whose primary residence was damaged or destroyed by 2011 river flooding," Fong said. "We want to get the word out about this program so that every eligible property owner is aware of the program and has an opportunity to file for the refund."
The program applies to property for which the homeowner received disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of the 2011 river flooding. This includes property that sustained damage by river flooding or because of an abnormally high water table in an area.
The 2013 Legislature passed House Bill 1459, creating a one-time sales tax refund program. This bill was co-sponsored by Representatives Andy Maragos, Larry Bellew, Roger Brabandt, Bob Frantsvog, Matt Klein, and Dan Ruby; and Senators Randy Burckhard, David Hogue, Karen Krebsbach and Oley Larsen.
The refund program allows homeowners, who meet certain criteria, to receive a refund of sales tax for certain purchases made between June 10, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013. The program is available to homeowners for their primary residences. Rental property that received damage is not eligible for the sales tax refund. Qualifying purchases include those made to replace and repair eligible property damaged by the 2011 flooding.
State sales tax refunds on the purchase price of each item are limited to the first $3,200 of qualifying major appliances and residential furniture. Purchases for building supplies for residential property are limited to $500 per item. The refund is limited to one claim per primary household with a maximum of $2,500. Refund requests must be submitted to the Tax Department no later than Dec. 31, 2013.
"This is a one-time opportunity and we are trying to get the word out about this program," Fong noted. "We are open for business."
Maragos, who was in attendance at Wednesday's event, said the Legislature came together and worked hard to get the refund program passed.
"I am pleased the Legislature approved this very helpful program to assist the flood victims of our state, and express my appreciation to the Tax Department for their assistance in the crafting of the bill and its implementation," he said.
Additionally, Maragos thanked Krebsbach, the work group from Minot State University and others who were involved.
"The flood of 2011 greatly impacted Minot residents as well as Bismarck and other areas, so it is appropriate that this press conference be held here, at Minot State University," said Krebsbach, who was also in attendance. "A committee of six from MSU developed the idea after researching legislation from other states that had similar experience with flooding. Much of what was introduced and was enacted is patterned after the Tennessee legislation, but tailored to the needs of North Dakota."
Krebsbach added that she was happy to be a part of it and thankful, thinking it's a way to give back to an area that needs it.
"There is no time like a disaster that brings people together and this is a reflection of that spirit," Fong said.
For more information about the sales tax refund or to access the application and instructions, visit the Tax Department website at www.nd.gov/tax/salesanduse/pubs or call the Sales Tax Compliance Section at 328-1246. Fong said he encourages people to call the department office if they have questions.
Taxpayers can also stay up-to-date on North Dakota tax-related matters by visiting the Tax Department's website at www.nd.gov/tax or connecting with the Tax Department on Facebook and YouTube.