Legislation to expand Property Tax/Rent Rebate limits passes House

HARRISBURG, June 5 – Expansion of Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program took another major step forward Monday.

House Bill 1100, with Finance Committee Chair Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton, as its primary sponsor, alongside primary co-sponsors Reps. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin/Cumberland, Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, and Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, passed the House of Representatives by a 194-9 vote.

The bill, which matches the proposal put forth earlier this year by Gov. Josh Shapiro, next heads to the Senate for consideration.

“I’m grateful for the House’s overwhelming vote to expand the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program for seniors and people with disabilities,” Samuelson said. “This will increase income limits, provide larger rebates for those who qualify, and includes a cost-of-living adjustment so that recipients won’t lose their rebate in the future when they get modest increases in their Social Security or pension.”

The legislation, which gained 92 bipartisan co-sponsors and was approved by a unanimous vote in the House Finance Committee last month, would increase income limits for the PT/RR Program for the first time in 16-plus years.

“Over recent years, we’ve seen more and more people lose eligibility for PT/RR, which has been frustrating for so many older Pennsylvanians who rely on this program,” said Kim, chair of the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee. “With funds currently locked away because of an outdated threshold, passing this bill today means we’re moving toward taking healthy gaming revenue and making the needed changes so this program can do what it was always intended to do, which is help keep families in their homes.”

According to Samuelson, nearly 175,000 additional Pennsylvanians could soon be eligible for the PT/RR Program once it’s signed into law.

Hill-Evans’ district office in York has completed 15% more PT/RR applications this year than they did in 2021, she said, with a lot of those increases coming from people who have only recently heard about the program.

“It is frustrating turning away so many lower-income retired renters who are losing out on rebates simply because of recent Social Security cost-of-living increases,” said Hill-Evans, chair of the Central PA Delegation. “We’ve seen folks in their late 70s and even 80s who have to keep working just to cover the normal cost of living. We need to be serving our seniors, widows and widowers, and those with disabilities. Increasing limits in PT/RR helps us do that better.”

Income limits for the PT/RR Program last increased in January 2007. Without any increase in the income eligibility since then, the number of recipients of the PT/RR Program has dropped from roughly 600,000 individuals to a projected 398,000 in the current year.

“PT/RR was established to help people, and far too many people who need help have become ineligible simply because the formula is outdated,” said Madden, chair of the Northeast Delegation. “It’s time to adjust the eligibility requirements for this program, and I’m so glad we took this major step today to help make that happen.”

The bill would increase the income limits for the PT/RR Program to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters.

“In the district I represent, which features a growing number of seniors and people with disabilities who deserve support, delivering this legislation is welcome news,” said Smith-Wade-El, a first-year legislator from Lancaster County. “Once we get this through the Senate and signed into law, an expanded PT/RR will help stabilize our neighborhoods and keep seniors and our neighbors with disabilities in their homes.”

Samuelson noted that this legislation also includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment so that in future years, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program would keep pace with inflation, preventing recipients from missing out on rebates simply because of small increases to Social Security benefits.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, began in 1971 to benefit older adults and adults with disabilities. Below is a chart showing current and proposed income limits and rebates. Applicants can exclude half of their Social Security income when determining eligibility:

                                                          Current                   Proposed
Income                                              Max. Rebate          Max. Rebate
0 – $8,000                                              $ 650                      $ 1,000
$8,001 – $15,000                                   $ 500                      $    770
$15,001 – $18,000                                 $ 300                      $    460
$18,001 – $35,000                                 $ 250                      $    380
$35,001 – $45,000                                    NA                       $    380