WARMINSTER, PA — Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres was joined yesterday by Sen. Maria Collett, AARP Pennsylvania and community leaders to echo Governor Tom Wolf’s call for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to immediately use a portion of the $1.7 billion in unspent American Rescue Plan Act dollars to help older adults and individuals with disabilities through property tax and rent rebates to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Gov. Wolf proposed his $1.7 billion action plan, which includes a proposal to direct $204 million to provide property tax relief to Pennsylvanians by investing in the existing Property Tax Rent Rebate program. This investment would be a one-time bonus rebate to current program users, doubling existing rebates with an estimated 466,000 Pennsylvanians receiving an additional average rebate of $475.
“Older Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly want to age in their homes and communities for as long as they are able. While the Department of Aging provides services and supports to help them achieve this goal, programs like the Department of Revenue’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate offers seniors an additional benefit,” said Secretary Torres. “Many older adults live on fixed incomes and when it comes to their finances, paying their rent or mortgage is a top priority. Governor Wolf’s proposed one time increase in the rebate amount will help seniors to meet some of their needs during these difficult times.”
Sec. Torres noted that in Bucks County, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefitted 12,018 Pennsylvanians who received a total of more than $5.6 million, according to the most recent available data from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Almost 75% of these recipients were age 65 and older.
In Montgomery County, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefitted 13,442 Pennsylvanians who received a total of $6.4 million. Almost 75% of these recipients were age 65 and older.
Sen. Collett recently introduced S.B. 1187, which supports Gov. Wolf’s proposal to provide the one-time bonus rebate.
“As the cost of living continues to rise, lower-income residents, seniors, and disabled Pennsylvanians must not be left behind,” said Sen. Collett. “As the Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee, I am pleased to work with Secretary Torres and Governor Wolf to introduce legislation to expand the already-popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate program and get additional federal relief funds to the Pennsylvanians who need it most.”
Secretary Torres was joined in his call for immediate action by the General Assembly to get money out to Pennsylvanians who are hurting right now by representatives from the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging and Charter Arms Apartments.
“Everyone is paying more for nearly everything today – from prescription drugs to gas to housing but, the problem of inflation is hardest for those on fixed incomes,” said AARP Pennsylvania State President Joanne Grossi. “The very purpose of the American Rescue Plan Act is to provide flexible, emergency funding for state and local governments to effectively respond to the negative economic impacts created by pandemic. AARP Pennsylvania is pleased to support this critical investment of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to support Property Tax Rent Rebate Program beneficiaries.”
“The governor’s proposal is a simple plan to execute. Claimants won’t have to take any additional action to receive their one-time bonus rebates,” said Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell, who heads the agency that administers the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. “Claimants should fill out their rebate applications as they normally do, and we will automatically calculate and distribute the additional rebates to them. If anyone needs help with their rebate application, filing assistance is available at the Department of Revenue’s district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and state legislators’ offices.”
Since its inception in 1971, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has delivered more than $7.1 billion to older adults and individuals with disabilities.