Rebate deadline extended, but beware of scam

The deadline for the 2018 Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2019.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all other eligibility criteria.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is one of five programs supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since the program’s 1971 inception, older and disabled adults have received more than $6.9 billion in property tax and rent relief. The rebate program also receives funding from slots gaming.

Homeowners receive the following property tax rebates based on income: Income $0 to $8,000, $650 rebate; $8,001 to $15,000, $500; $15,001 to $18,000, $300; $18,001 to $35,000, $250.

Renters receive: $0 to $8,000, $650; $8,001 to $15,000, $500.

In addition, the law gives the following relief to seniors in most need:

Seniors who live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Scranton, where local wage/income tax rates are very high, will not benefit from a local tax shift to lower taxes on top of the reduction offered by the state funded property tax relief. To ensure that seniors in these communities receive significant property tax relief, each senior household with income under $30,000 has its property tax rebate increase by an additional 50 percent.

In addition, property tax rebates are increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the rest of the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15 percent of income in property taxes.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate application forms and assistance are available at no cost from Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and state legislators’ offices.

Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year.

Applications can also be filed on-line at www.rev enue.pa.gov. There is NO charge to apply for this program.

Applicants should, however, be aware of a scam that has been reported.

The scam consists of unsolicited calls from a person claiming to work for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The caller says an application for the Property Tax or Rent Rebate has been approved and then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account, and asks for his or her bank information.

This is a scam. The Department of Revenue does not make live calls regarding Property Tax or Rent Rebate applications and does not collect applicant banking deposit information over the phone.

The Department of Revenue does contact applicants via automated calls to confirm their information has been received and approved. If more information about an individual’s application is needed, a letter is sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

Individuals can request that their rebate be directly deposited, however, those requests must be made when the signed application is submitted.

If you received a phone call from an individual claiming to represent the Department of Revenue and is requesting personal bank account information,DO NOT give out any banking information, including Social Security numbers,

If you previously received one of these calls and provided your banking information or other personal information, you should immediately call your bank to make them aware of this potential fraud. Additionally, you can file a scam complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov.