HARRISBURG, Pa. — Senator Lisa M. Boscola (D-Northhampton) announced Tuesday that she will be introducing legislation designed to extend the Property Tax & Rent Rebate (PTRR) Program for more Pennsylvanians over the age of 65.
The proposed legislation would increase income eligibility, raising the limit for the first time in nearly fifteen years, according to Boscola's press release.
In 2022, nearly 260,000 Pennsylvanians were awarded rebate checks through the PTRR program. However, a report from the PA Department of Revenue says the number of rebates had dropped by 20% between 2015 and 2020.
Teresa Odom, the advocacy director for the Pennsylvania chapter of AARP, says that thousands of senior citizens will miss out on the rebate program if changes are not made.
“We anticipate there will be about 10,000 to 15,0000 folks who, without a COLA adjustment for the property tax rebate program, may be dropped off the program,” said Odom.
Under the proposed legislation, homeowners eligible to apply will now be able to receive a rebate check towards their property taxes if they make upwards of $50,000 a year.
Current law excludes homeowners if their annual income was over $35,000. Additionally, Sen. Boscola's bill would increase limits for renters, from $15,000 to $30,000.
“These income limits haven’t been increased since 2008,” Boscola said. “I have homeowners who rely on this rebate check to stay in their homes, amid rising property taxes…this is owed to them, and I will fight to get this done."
The proposal would also aim to exclude an applicant's Social Security cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) from the definition of income. According to Odom, recent COLA increases to Social Security pushed some applicants above the income eligibility limit.
“That slight COLA increase has been dropping many folks from the property tax rebate program," said Odom.
“COLA increases are important. Our seniors receiving Social Security deserve a raise, but it shouldn’t come back to bite them when applying for the PTRR program,” Boscola said in the press release.
The 2022 COLA for Social Security was set at 5.9%, but projections suggest the next COLA could be between 8% and 10% for beneficiaries.
If approved, Boscola's bill would take effect for the 2023 PTRR program.
Applicants can still apply for this year's program until Dec. 31, 2022, by visiting this website to file their rebate application online, or by calling Senator Lisa Boscola's office at 610-868-8667.
Along with meeting income requirements, eligible applicants must certify that they are 65 years old or older, a widow or widower age 50-64, or permanently disabled age 18-64.