All dogs three months or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court costs. An annual license is $8.50 and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50 and lifetime is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents. Reasons for dog licensing: It’s the law. All dogs three months or older must have a current license. If your dog gets lost, a license is the best way to get him back. A license helps animal control and shelters identify your dog and get him back home safely. The cost of a license is less than the penalty for being caught without one. Owners who fail to license their dogs could face a fine of up to $300 for each unlicensed dog. License fees support animal control. The annual fee you pay to license your dog helps keep shelters running and supports the work of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of dogs, regulating dangerous dogs and overseeing annual licensing and rabies vaccinations. Read more
Haggerty supports local property tax elimination State Rep.-Elect Kevin Haggerty, D-Lackawanna, announced today that he will continue to support efforts to eliminate school property taxes. Haggerty said he will work with state Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill, prime sponsor of S.B. 76 , because he said lawmakers must reduce the local tax burden on working families, homeowners and those on fixed incomes. “We need to put our political differences aside and come together in a bipartisan manner to stimulate our economy and adequately fund our schools, but not at the expense of homeowners,” Haggerty said “Mostly every part of the district I visit, my constituents tell me that paying property taxes is their main concern,” Haggerty said. “Many people have to choose between paying their property taxes and putting food on the table for their families and they shouldn’t have to make this choice.” Haggerty supported property tax elimination legislation as a member of the General Assembly in 2013-14, and will continue to support it in 2017-18. “Property tax elimination legislation must be carefully crafted, but we can produce a stabilizing funding formula for the people if we work at it,” Haggerty said. “We need to protect families because this is what Pennsylvanians want -- property tax elimination.” Haggerty is scheduled to be sworn in to office Jan. 3. Read more
In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your electricity – also known as your electric supplier. This means that you have the power to switch to a competing supplier who can offer the lowest price, or provide a specific service you want, such as “green” or renewable energy. All Pennsylvania residents have the right to choose their electric supplier, but your ability to switch depends on where you live. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas. PAPowerSwitch provides much of the information that you need. Before approving any agreement with a supplier, you should always read the contract thoroughly and understand the product you are purchasing, its price, when the contract ends, cancellation or other fees, and any other terms and conditions that apply, including if and when the price might change. As always, if you need more help or have questions about your situation, please contact my office . Read more
To register for the Pennsylvania and national do-not-call lists, visit Pennsylvania's Do-Not-Call list or call 1-888-777-3406. Registration is free. There is a rolling enrollment; individuals may sign up at any time and the registration is good for five years. After that, you can re-enroll. And, signing up on Pennsylvania's list automatically adds those numbers to the national do-not-call list. If you continue to receive unwanted telemarketing phone calls, complaints can be filed with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the state Attorney General's Office by calling 1-800-441-2555. Violation of the law carries a civil penalty of up to $1,000 and as high as $3,000 if the person contacted is 60 or older. Please keep in mind that existing law does not prevent telemarketers from calling those with whom they had an established business relationship within 12 months preceding the call, or telemarketers calling on behalf of charities, political parties or candidates. Read more
Each year, the Pennsylvania Treasury receives millions of dollars of unclaimed property. It is estimated that roughly one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property. Unclaimed property may include: Closed bank accounts; Uncashed checks, including paychecks; Lost stocks and bonds; Contents of safe deposit boxes; Proceeds from the demutualization of insurance companies; Expired gift cards/gift certificates. To find out if you have unclaimed property, search your name in the Unclaimed Property database at www.patreasury.gov/Unclaimed/Search.html , call 1-800-222-2046, or contact my office . There is NO CHARGE to claim your unclaimed property. Read more
If you choose to have a professional home-energy audit and meet the requirements, you might qualify for the Pennsylvania’s Weatherization Assistance Program . Last year’s bitterly cold winter left many people struggling to pay higher-than-normal home energy bills. As we head toward the coldest months of the year, there are ways you can winterize your home to keep heat in, cold air out, and money in your pocket. Many businesses offer professional home energy audits, but you can perform your own by inspecting areas where heat escapes and cold air leaks in. One easy way to start is by locating air leaks. Common air leak locations include gaps along baseboards and doors to the outside, along with windows and junctures of the walls and ceiling. These leaks can sometimes be fixed by caulking holes and gaps or by applying weather stripping to doors and windows. It’s also easy to lose heat through poor insulation. Especially in older homes, insulation in attics and garages can wear down over time or simply not be adequate by today’s standards. Inspecting the quality and type of insulation you have and replacing it if necessary could keep your home much warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer. The type of light bulb you use can also save money on energy bills. Consider replacing inefficient bulbs with energy-saving incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). If you choose to have a professional Read more
Recently, my office received information about phone calls received statewide in which an individual claimed to be from the IRS and demanded payment on taxes owed. Please be aware – this phone call is a scam, and the IRS will NOT initiate first contact with you on the phone about taxes owed. Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls in which an individual claims to represent a business or government entity and aggressively demands payment. The IRS does not operate this way and will always send official correspondence through the mail to make its first contact with you. Additionally, it is important for you to know that the IRS: Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone; Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations; Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies. Consider the other characteristics of a scam. Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling. Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims Read more
Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. What does CHIP cover? Immunizations Routine Check-ups Diagnostic Testing Prescriptions Dental, Vision, Hearing Services Emergency Care Maternity Care Mental Health Benefits Up to 90 Days Hospitalization in any Year Durable Medical Equipment Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Partial Hospitalization for Mental Health Rehabilitation Therapy Home Health Care Does my family qualify? The following factors are considered for a child's eligibility for CHIP: Must not be eligible for Medicaid or have any other health insurance. Must be under age 19. Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful alien. Must be a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days, except for a newborn. The family's income is below the following levels: Income guidelines: Family Size Free CHIP Subsidized CHIP* 2 $31,020 $31,021 - $46,530 3 $39,060 $39,061 - $58,590 4 $47,100 $47,101 - $70,650 5 $55,140 $55,141 - $82,710 6 $63,180 $63,181 - $94,770 7 $71,220 $71,221 - $106,830 8 $79,260 Read more
While it may be the season for charitable giving, scammers don't take a holiday. The Pennsylvania Department of State offers a simple way to ensure a charity is legitimate and that your donation will be used properly. The Department of State's Charities Database contains a list of over 10,000 charities and professional fundraisers, their addresses, telephone numbers, total income and total contributions. In addition, the database breaks down costs for programming, administration and fundraising. In addition, the site provides helpful tips for charitable giving, such as hanging up on aggressive and harassing solicitors and asking who will benefit from your contribution. While not every charity is listed on the department's site, you can email or call the bureau about charities not on the list. The site also lists organizations that are prohibited by law from operating within the commonwealth, donation warnings and alerts issued by the state and federal government, and information on how to file a complaint. Read more
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