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During a ceremony at a senior-citizen center in Philadelphia in August, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro ceremonially signed legislation which expands the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program to nearly 175,000 more Pennsylvania seniors and doubles rebates for many of the 400,000 Pennsylvanians who already qualify. (Submitted photo courtesy office of Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro)
Older Pennsylvanians will soon see some financial relief with their property taxes and rent.
Gov. Josh Shapiro recently signed House Bill 1100 into law, expanding the state’s existing property tax and rent rebate program.
Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director for AARP Pennsylvania, said the expansion of the program will significantly boost property tax rebates for older adults, alleviating the financial burden for homeowners and renters. He said the yearly maximum standard will increase from $650 to $1,000 for individuals.
It is the first expansion of the program in nearly 20 years, Johnston-Walsh said. “Both property taxes across the state, and rents, have been increasing year after year. And that’s why AARP Pennsylvania fought so hard to expand the property tax rebate program.”
Johnston-Walsh said the program will be adjusted for cost of living as it moves forward. The Keystone State is home to almost 3.5 million people age 60 and older.
The program provides financial relief to those who need it most but also demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing the needs of an aging population, he said.
“The Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Shapiro, what they’re looking for is how do we keep people in their homes longer?” Johnston-Walsh said. “How do we put more money in their pockets so that, you know, they’re able to put food on their table, pay for their medications, and also pay for their property tax and their rents?”
State Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills, who serves as leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said the program has a proven track record of success for seniors, people with disabilities and renters.
“I’m thrilled we are able to expand eligibility requirements so that more individuals can benefit from it,” he said, vowing that he and other members of his caucus would continue to champion legislation “to ensure our seniors, our families, and our neighbors can stay in communities they built in the homes they love.”
Shapiro and Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich recently participated in a tele-townhall with AARP to answer questions from older Pennsylvanians about the expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program.
Johnston-Walsh said AARP is trying to reach as many Pennsylvanians as possible to advise them of the program.
“To educate people letting them know that this expansion goes from $35,000 a year for homeowners to $45,000 starting in 2024,” Johnston-Walsh said. “And getting as many people to apply for it as possible, we know that there’s going to be nearly 175,000 additional Pennsylvanians that will be eligible for the program next year.”
Johnston-Walsh said 400,000 people are already qualified and will get the increase. Pennsylvanians have until Dec. 31 to apply for the program. Area Agencies on Aging, local senior centers and state legislators’ offices can help people apply, he said.
Danielle M. Smith is a producer for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. An award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media, she is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks who also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on WGBN (1360 AM/98.9 FM). Tube City Almanac editor Jason Togyer contributed to this report.
Originally published September 13, 2023.