Under expanded PA program, many seniors can save on property tax or rent. Here’s how.

Pennsylvania seniors

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaking at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple in Scranton, Pa. prior to President Joe Biden delivering his tax fairness address on April 16, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

May 23, 2024

The June 30th deadline for Pennsylvania seniors and disabled residents to apply for a rebate from the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program is quickly approaching. Here’s how to apply and who is eligible.

Pennsylvania seniors and disabled residents have until June 30th to apply for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program.

Gov. Josh Shapiro expanded the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program last year for the first time since 2006 with popular bipartisan support. The expansion increased rebates for eligible residents from $650 to $1,000 and increased the income limits to $45,000 for renters and homeowners.

“We delivered … the largest targeted tax cuts for seniors in nearly two decades,” Shapiro said at the Messiah Lifeways senior living facility in New Cumberland last August. “We made a commitment and we kept it and we delivered for all of you.”

Pennsylvania residents who are over the age of 65, widows or widowers over the age of 50 and residents who have disabilities and are over the age of 18 are encouraged to apply for the rebates through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s website, mypath.pa.gov.

Homeowners and renters who are eligible for the program can receive the following rebates based on their income:

  • Residents making $0 to $8,000 are eligible for a rebate up to $1,000
  • Residents making $8,001 to $15,000 are eligible for a rebate up to $770
  • Residents making $15,001 to $18,000 are eligible for a rebate up to $460
  • Residents making $18,001 to $45,000 are eligible for a rebate up to $380

This expansion marks the first time the program’s income limits have increased since 2006 when 600,000 residents participated in the program, but that figure dropped to roughly 398,000 residents by 2023 due to seniors receiving cost of living adjustments from their pensions and Social Security benefits, which made them ineligible for the rebates.

State Rep. Steve Samuelson (D-Lehigh) was the prime sponsor of House Bill 1100, which expanded the property tax and rent rebate and was signed into law by Shapiro, and explained how cost of living adjustments left seniors ineligible.

“When we expanded in 2006, we did not include a cost of living adjustment,” Samuelson said in an interview. “So that’s why every year people would lose out on their eligibility.”

For Samuelson, this expansion has been a personal accomplishment. Samuelson has been advocating for expanding the program since 2007 because of the lack of a cost of living adjustment and how many seniors were getting pushed out of the program each year.

“I mean the testimony we had at the budget hearing – I’d like to say 2007 or 2008 – mentioned the 605,000 people who were getting it, but then, every year since then, the Department of Revenue would have a chart, they’d have some statistics that said, ‘we’re losing 15, 20,000 people a year just because of incomes going up,’” Samuelson explained.

The expansion hopes to boost those numbers once again and bring 175,000 Pennsylvanians into the program.

Seniors living in senior centers are set to benefit the most from this expansion thanks to the increase in income eligibility for renters. The income eligibility for renters has been capped at $15,000 since 1999 while the eligibility for homeowners was capped to $35,000 in 2006.

Now, both renters and homeowners will have their income eligibility capped at $45,000.

Samuelson explained that his Bethlehem office helped 900 residents get their tax rebates last year and he expects that number to reach 1,200 by the end of the year.

“We see firsthand what an important program this is for people,” Samuelson said. “And every time we talk to somebody, sometimes people mention, ‘I wish I got this. I missed out by just a little bit.’ But now this is a way to help thousands, tens of thousands, actually 175,000 additional people all across Pennsylvania.”

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: STATE LEGISLATURE
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