Positively 50+: Tax Circuit Breaker and Renter Relief

Jan 31, 2024, 1:02 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — We’re all looking for ways to stretch our finances through discounts and deals but for those who are a little older and on a fixed income, the need is that much greater.
There is a lesser-known state program to help seniors out to the tune of hundreds of dollars.

For seniors like Blanche Rollins, the idea of getting a little monetary boost out of the blue was a nice surprise.

“I thought wow, you mean I can really get some help right now when I need it,” Rollins said.

That help came in the form of a $575 check. And Rollins doesn’t want you to waste the chance to get a break from a program known as “Circuit Breaker.”

“It’s so important for the elderly to age in place. It’s the place they’re most comfortable. It’s the place they have their own home and support network. And so we’re really looking to keep people in their homes.”

Joe Hirabayashi with AARP said while it might not seem like a life-changing amount, a few hundred to over a thousand dollars a year really adds up.

“If you’re on a fixed income it can be a significant boost to your budget.”

Thousands of Utah homeowners take advantage of the program annually but renters might not know that they can get a refund, too. That’s why people like Jerry Schmidt, who made a career of helping seniors make ends meet, has made it his mission to shout the program’s benefits, if not from the rooftops, from the Utah Capitol steps. His YouTube videos can be a big help.

So what qualifies you to take advantage of “Circuit Breaker” or the “Renter Refund” programs?
You have to be older than 65 or a widow or widower of any age. You have to live in Utah the whole calendar year. You can’t be claimed as anyone’s dependent and there are certain income requirements.

The specifics can be found on the Utah State Tax Commission Website.

“I’d love to see people email their legislators to let them know how vital this program is. If you really think about it, most of us know someone who is struggling and who could benefit from this program,” Hirabayashi said.

AARP wants everyone to take advantage so that lawmakers keep efforts like this one top of mind ultimately offering people like Rollins peace of mind.

“It really, really helped because I had had some major financial challenges right at that point,” he said. “So that was really special.”

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Positively 50+: Tax Circuit Breaker and Renter Relief