Property Tax/Rent Relief
A column by State Senator Pat Browne
16th Senatorial District
Perhaps the most hotly debated issue before the
General Assembly involves providing property tax
relief. As you may know, the Senate and House
approved separate proposals and we are now working
to reach a consensus on a single plan.
What you may not know is Pennsylvania already has an
excellent program that provides property tax relief
and rent rebates of up to $500 to many low-income
2004, more than 7,500 Lehigh County senior citizens
and disabled residents took advantage of the state's
Property Tax and Rent Rebate program, receiving more
than $3 million in rebates. Of these participants,
3,373 were property owners, and 4,175 were renters.
The average rebate was $399.66.
More than 4,700 Northampton County residents
received rebates totaling nearly $1.9 million in
2004. Of these participants, 2,595 were property
owners, and 2,131 were renters. The average rebate
Statewide in 2004, claimants received over $126.5
million in rebates for rent and property taxes paid
the previous year.
This Lottery-funded program -- one of the most
successfully operated by the state on behalf of
senior citizens -- can be a substantial source of
assistance to older people burdened by high rent or
skyrocketing property taxes.
how does this cash-back initiative work?
Under the program, a person living on a limited
income may be eligible to receive a refund of some
part of the money he or she paid for property taxes
or rent during the previous calendar year. To
qualify, an applicant must have an annual household
income of less than $15,000. The program is open to
state residents age 65 or older; widows and widowers
age 50 or older; and permanently disabled persons
age 18 and over who meet the Social Security
income guidelines were changed a few years ago by
the Legislature to help those who were pushed out of
the program by small Social Security increases. The
change that was enacted, with my strong support,
allows senior citizens to exclude 50 percent of
their Social Security/Railroad
retirement income when determining annual income for
eligibility purposes. I am pleased that we were
able to expand this program to help even more
Property taxes and rent are among the two biggest
expenses for most families. This important program
is one way that qualifying senior citizens can
recoup some of their money. I encourage all
eligible Lehigh Valley residents to apply.
more information, call any of my any of my District
Offices: (Downtown Allentown) (610) 821-8468; (East
Allentown) (610) 821-6813; (Northampton County)
(610) 502-1567; or, visit the Department of Revenue
website at www.revenue.state.pa.us ; or,
contact the Lehigh County Area Agency on Aging at
(610) 782-3034, or the Northampton County Area
Agency on Aging toll-free at (800) 322-9269.