2008-10-30 / Local & State

Gov. Rendell Visits Pittsburgh Senior Center

Announces school taxes eliminated for 113,000 senior homeowners statewide

PITTSBURGH - Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced last week that an estimated 113,000 senior homeowners have had school property taxes completely eliminated as a result of Pennsylvania's historic property-tax relief law.

"Seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes, struggle the most with rising property taxes," Gov. Rendell said during an event at the Homewood Senior Center in Pittsburgh. "After more than 30 years of debate and failed property-tax relief efforts, we have succeeded in bringing real property-tax relief to all Pennsylvania homeowners, and now some 113,000 seniors can live without the burden of paying school property taxes."

Pennsylvania is providing a total of $786 million in property-tax relief this year, including expanded rebates from the state's senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate program and first-ever general property tax relief for all homeowners that was distributed through school districts this past summer. As a result, an estimated 113,000 seniors had their entire school propertytax bill eliminated.

In Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Indiana, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, more than 27,000 seniors had their school property taxes completely eliminated.

About 600,000 seniors are expected to benefit from rebates this year, compared to 314,000 before the program's expansion in 2006. Last year, 564,000 seniors received more than $240 million in rebates. So far this year, more than 580,000 people have applied for a rebate and, as of Oct. 10, rebates totaling nearly $254 million have been sent to more than 529,000 homeowners and renters.

"More than half a million seniors already received rebates this year, but we know there are about 140,000 more people who qualify but haven't applied yet, including nearly 8,000 seniors here in southwestern Pennsylvania," the governor said. "I encourage everyone who thinks they may be eligible for a rebate to get their application in by the Dec. 31 deadline. I don't want one senior to miss out on receiving the help they need in paying their school property taxes."

Act 1 of Special Session 2006 delivered the largest property-tax cut in Pennsylvania history, using proceeds from slots gaming. In addition to the expanded rebate program, the law provides state-funded tax relief through reductions in the tax bills that school districts send out each summer. The broadbased property-tax relief started this year at an average of nearly $200 per household across the state.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years old and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The program expansion increased the income limit from $15,000 to $35,000 (which excludes half of Social Security income) for homeowners, and raises the maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters from $500 to $650.

The expanded household income limits and base rebate amounts are: $0 and $8,000 - $650 rebate; $8,001 to $15,000 - $500 rebate; $15,001 to $18,000 - $300 rebate; $18,001 to $35,000 - $250 rebate.

Renters with incomes between $0 and $8,000 receive a $650 rebate and those with incomes between $8,001 and $15,000 receive a $500 rebate.

"In the past two years we've delivered historic property-tax relief to those who need it most, but we're not done yet," said Gov. Rendell. "Once all 14 slots facilities are up and running in Pennsylvania, annual property-tax relief will reach more than $1 billion and an estimated 200,000 senior homeowners will have their school property taxes eliminated."

Fulton County received 683 rebate applications. The estimated number of eligible people who have not applied for rebates is 322. The amount of rebates distributed is $275,467, and the estimated number of people with school property taxes eliminated was 162.

The deadline to apply for Pennsylvania's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program was extended from June 30 to December 31. Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA- 1000) are available online at www.papropertytaxrelief.com or by calling toll free 1-888-222-9190.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, created in 1971, is one of five programs supported by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery. The expanded portion of the rebate program is paid for with revenue from slots gaming.

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