Food tax refund in reach for students

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

Students may be eligible to receive money from the state by filling out a simple form.

Cyndy Boesch, a community service worker for Inter-Lakes Community Action in Brookings, said that a number of SDSU students could be eligible for the Sales Tax on Food Refund program.

The program has its roots in the push to abolish a state food tax. Although the bill to remove tax on unprepared food didn’t pass in the November election, this program began July 1 as an alternative way to return food tax dollars to low-income individuals and families.

For an individual to qualify for the refund, he or she would need to be living at less than 150 percent of the poverty level, which would be a monthly income of less than $1,164.

This number should be within reach for many students, Boesch explained.

“The reason most students are eligible is that school income doesn’t count – grants, scholarships, or work study,” she said.

In addition, the tax refund is calculated on a quarterly basis, so only income for the last three months is taken into account.

“Some kids may think, ‘Oh, I had a lot of income last summer,’ ” Boesch said, but that wouldn’t affect eligibility for a refund.

What would prevent some students from receiving a refund are meal plans. The program states that people receiving 50 percent or more of their meals from a food plan are ineligible for the refund.

To apply for the program, a simple form must be completed.

“The application is very simple. We could finish it in 15 minutes,” Boesch said. “As far as programs go, this one is probably the easiest.”

If the application were approved, the refund would come in the mail on a specialized debit-style card that can only be used for food purchases. A renewal form would be made available after three months.

State program specialist Virginia Hanson encouraged students to take advantage of the program.

“There’s not many programs where you can do a one-page application and get money back in your pocket for food,” she said. “If people were eligible for a federal income tax return they’d take advantage of it. This is the same type of thing.”

Individuals interested in applying for the refund should call Boesch at 692-6391 to make an appointment.