New Hampshire’s education property tax rebate doesn’t amount to much

Eligible homeowners receive an average of less than $200

Hand Holding Miniature DollarThe New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration is reminding low-and moderate-income property-tax payers that they have until the end of June to apply for a rebate on their 2020 property tax bills – but the program applies only to the Statewide Education Property Tax and not to either the local school property tax or municipal property tax, which make up the bulk of a homeowner’s tax bill.

While local property taxes are levied at variable rates according to the assessed valuation of municipalities, the Statewide Education Property Tax, or SWEPT, is levied at a fixed rate sufficient to raise $363 million.

The SWEPT was introduced in 1999 at a rate of $6.60, which two years later was reduced to $4.92. Since 2005, the rate has been set at a level to raise $363 million. As property values have risen, the original rate of $3.33 has fallen to the current rate of $1.825 in 2021.

The state rebate applies only to the first $100,000 of the assessed value of the property.

To qualify for the program, a single homeowner must have annual income of $20,000 or less and $40,000 or less if the head of household. Claimants must apply for a rebate between May 1 and June 30 following the due date of the tax bill, a narrow window.

Rebates for individuals range from 100% of the bill for those earning less than $12,500 to 20% for those earning between $17,500 and $20,000. For households, rebates range from 100% of the tax bill for those with income of less than $25,000 to 20% for those with incomes between $35,000 and $40,000.

With a SWEPT rate of approximately $1.825 per $1,000, the 100% rebate for either singles or households amounts to less than $200. The rebate to a married head of household earning $35,000 with a $200,000 home would be $40.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute reported that in 2018 property tax levies amounted to approximately $2,800 per capita, while the average property tax rebate paid to low- and moderate-income individuals and households was $160.

Homeowners who pay their taxes in July and December of one year can then apply for a rebate in May or June of the next year and receive a rebate within 120 days.

In 2003, when the program was introduced 27,208 homeowners received $7.5 million in property tax relief, but by 2018 the number of claimants had shrunk to 6,685 who altogether received $1.1 million in rebates. In 2020, rebates totaled $886,700. Since the program began, nearly $45 million has been distributed in rebates.

The application form (Form DP-8) is available on NHDRA’s website. Program applicants are required to submit their individual income tax returns with the application.

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