News

City's seniors lining up for tax rebates

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Federal Way’s seniors have already begun submitting their applications and supporting documentation to get a share of a new senior tax rebate program offered through the city.

While the rebate amount isn’t a lot, it’s getting good reviews as a nice break for seniors on a tight budget.

So far, 85 seniors have requested applications for the program, and 15 have submitted all the paperwork necessary to process their rebates.

City management analyst Jason Suzaka said many of the seniors who’ve inquired have offered positive feedback.

“Every little bit helps,” he said. “They’re not expecting to get a windfall of money, but it helps.”

The City Council approved the rebate in early 2003 after they agreed to increase the utility tax to the state-allowed 6 percent maximum. The city is rebating the whole 6 percent to qualifying seniors.

Those wanting the rebate must:

• Live within city limits.

• Be at least 65 years old.

• Meet the federal definition of low-income.

• And be the person responsible for paying the utility bills — meaning the service is in their name and that person pays the bill out of his or her own resources.

Utilities for which Federal Way residents pay taxes include electricity, natural gas, cable television, cellular phones, regular phones and garbage.

Interested seniors have until April 30 to submit the required documentation for the 2003 rebate program.

Seniors who didn’t save their bank statements last year need not despair: Customers can call the utility companies to request their 2003 statements.

Once city officials receive the required documents, they’ll go through the statements and figure out the portion of utility tax paid over the course of 2003.

Suzaka said the average rebate so far has been about $60, though the amount varies depending on what utilities individuals use. Not everyone has cable TV and cellular phones, for example, and some apartment complexes pay for garbage service.

The rebate checks will be mailed to the applicants once the city has finished processing the paperwork. Suzaka said it will take about a month, “but we try to get them turned around pretty quick.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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