PITTSBURGH, PA – April 14, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Pennsylvania homeowners will receive nearly $770 million in property tax relief in 2009 under the latest installment from the historic Taxpayer Relief Act, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today.
All Pennsylvania homeowners in 66 counties can receive reductions in the school property tax bills they will receive this summer. Approximately 110,000 Pennsylvania seniors will pay no school property taxes again this year, thanks to state-funded property tax relief, and many more will receive rebates of up to $975 in addition to the property tax relief that all homeowners receive.
“Property tax relief is real and it is making a difference in the lives of older adults and hard-working families across Pennsylvania,” Governor Rendell today told visitors at the South Side Market House Senior Community Center.
“In spite of the economic downturn, we are able to maintain the same level of property tax relief in the coming year that homeowners are receiving right now. That is due in large part to the speed with which many of our venues were launched and their competitiveness with other states.
“The national recession makes our property tax relief law more valuable than ever for senior citizens on a fixed income and for families who may be suffering due to a layoff or a cut in working hours. And property tax relief will also benefit our small businesses, since the $770 million that Pennsylvanians will save this year is money that will be reinvested in the local economy.”
Older Pennsylvanians in particular will benefit from the commonwealth’s use of gaming revenues to provide property tax relief. Nearly 580,000 seniors will be eligible for additional relief through the state’s expanded Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.
Nearly 2.7 million households across the commonwealth saw their property taxes lowered in 2008 because of gaming revenues,” the Governor said. The average statewide reduction in property taxes for each household is expected to be nearly $200 again this year. Final figures will be provided in early May when counties report the number of homeowners who have signed up for their share of property tax relief.
“This assistance is one example of the many ways the commonwealth is helping residents weather the current economic downturn,” Governor Rendell said. “And even after the economy improves, our property tax relief law will continue to benefit homeowners and help keep school tax increases in check.”
The 2006 Taxpayer Relief Act created the Property Tax Relief Fund as a way to use gaming revenue to reduce property taxes for homeowners. State law requires the budget secretary to certify the actual balance in the Property Tax Relief Fund on April 15 each year. The Governor said Budget Secretary Mary Soderberg will make that certification on Wednesday.
In addition to delivering property tax relief to Pennsylvania homeowners, the law enacted the state’s first-ever limits on school boards’ ability to raise property taxes. Already this year, more than three in four school districts have reported that they are going to keep any property tax increase at or below the rate of inflation.
“I have called on school boards to go even further to avoid any property tax increases by tapping the federal stimulus funding that I have proposed dedicating to our schools,” Governor Rendell said. “It is important that the General Assembly target these resources to education as the federal law intends. Otherwise, property taxes will rise dramatically at a time when it is hardest for Pennsylvanians to pay and the quality of our schools will suffer.”
The act also dramatically expanded Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Before the expansion, approximately 310,000 older Pennsylvanians benefited from the program. Under the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, older families with incomes up to $35,000 are eligible for rebates of up to $975, including additional relief for seniors who pay a large share of their income in property taxes or who live in high property-tax areas. Those eligible have until June 30 to sign up for the program by calling 1-888-222-9190.
Under the law, Pennsylvania homeowners will see the property tax reduction itemized on their tax bill, which most school districts will issue this summer. The amount of property tax relief will vary by school district. The Department of Education will notify each school district of its specific level of property tax relief in early May.
Philadelphia’s share of funding for broad-based tax relief will be used to reduce the city’s wage tax instead of its property tax, since the wage tax is the greater barrier to economic growth in that city.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.