Wolf signs bill allowing for early release of property tax/rent rebates

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Property tax rebates will soon start landing in mailboxes across Pennsylvania, thanks to legislation that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law on Tuesday.

In an online news conference, the Democratic governor said he’d signed a House bill allowing for the release rebates of up to $975 six weeks ahead of schedule.

Typically, those payments go out on July 1. But with the economy in the doldrums thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wolf said he knows that “ having even a small amount of extra money can help many Pennsylvanians during this crisis.” 

Wolf made the announcement in a joint news conference with Democratic state Treasurer Joe Torsella, whose office will be responsible for cutting those checks. Pennsylvanians over the age of 65, widows and widowers over the age of 50 and Pennsylvanians with disabilities over the age of 18 are eligible, Wolf said Tuesday.

“There’s an annual income cap of $35,000 for homeowners, $15,000 for renters, of course, with half of the Social Security Income excluded,” Wolf added. 

Wolf elaborated that the deadline to submit is Dec. 31, 2020. Pennsylvanians who have applied for the rebate can check the status of their application. It is free to apply.

“The caps on the amount are set by statute for the program,” Torsella told the Capital-Star. “And I believe the maximums range from … depending on circumstances, from $650 to 900-and-something, and those are set by statute and it depends on the circumstance of the applicants.” 

The rebates, part of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, are distributed by the Department of Revenue and Treasury, which typically awards nearly 500,000 rebates annually, Torsella said. 

“I think that total right now is something like 300,000 have applied,” Torsella continued, “But we have every expectation and intent that anyone who qualifies will get that money and will get that relief … and will get that money in their pockets and back in the Pennsylvania economy.”

The rebates are funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slot gaming. 

“This is just one of the many initiatives undertaken by my administration to assist Pennsylvanians during this,” Wolf said. 

According to Wolf, the administration is also increasing SNAP benefits and food bank funding, providing meals to students, ensuring health care insurance for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment, has established mental health crisis lines, and “extended tax and filing deadlines with postponed evictions and foreclosures and so much more,” Wolf said. 

Correspondent Hannah McDonald covers Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @HannahMcD0nald.