Bill O’Boyle: State begins distributing 260k property tax/rent rebates

·7 min read

Jul. 5—WILKES-BARRE — The state has begun distributing some 260,294 rebates totaling roughly $121.7 million to older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities across Pennsylvania, the Department of Revenue announced.

The rebates will be distributed through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

"This is a program that has delivered more than $7.3 billion in property tax and rent relief since the program's inception in 1971," said Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell. "We want Pennsylvanians to know that there is still time to apply for rebates on property taxes and rent paid in 2021. If you know of a friend or family member who may be eligible, encourage them to check their eligibility status and file an application with our agency prior to the deadline on Dec. 31, 2022."

As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 1. Applicants who submitted their bank account information on their application forms will receive their rebates through direct deposit. Applicants who requested a paper check to be mailed to them should expect to receive their payment in the mail.

After the initial distribution of rebates in early July, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed.

The deadline to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2021 was recently extended until Dec. 31, 2022, as Secretary Hassell noted. The Department of Revenue strongly encourages eligible applicants to file their rebate applications online by visiting mypath.pa.gov. The department launched myPATH to make it easier for the Pennsylvanians who benefit from the program to submit their applications.

Using myPATH to file your rebate application

Submitting your application online through mypath.pa.gov is easy and does not require you to sign up for an account. Applicants will be asked to provide specific information on their income and rent/property taxes. Applicants should check the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program instruction booklet to learn which information they will need to input/upload to complete the process.

Applicants who still wish to file a paper application form may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information on the Department of Revenue's website or by calling 1-888-222-9190.

It's free to apply for a rebate, and applicants are reminded that free assistance is available at hundreds of locations across the state, including Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and state legislators' offices. Applicants may also visit the department's Online Customer Service Center to find helpful tips and answers to commonly asked questions about the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

Applicants must reapply for rebates every year because rebates are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid in each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in 2021 and meet all other eligibility criteria.

Visit the Property/Tax Rent Rebate page on the Department of Revenue's website for further information on the program and how to apply for a rebate.

Checking status of your rebate

If you provide your phone number on your Property Tax/Rent Rebate application form or in the myPATH electronic application, you will receive an automated call from the Department of Revenue when your claim posts to the department's processing system. You will also receive another automated call when your claim is approved.

The easiest way to check the status of your rebate is to use the Where's My Rebate? tool. To check on the status of your claim, you will need your:

—Social Security number

—Claim year

—Date of birth

Casey pushes to improve web accessibility from DOJ

U.S. Senate Aging Committee Chairman Bob Casey, D-Scranton, this week led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding information on web accessibility across the federal government.

Casey said Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires the federal government to make all its information technology accessible to people with disabilities. The law also requires DOJ to publicly report on the federal government's compliance with accessibility standards every two years.

However, Casey said DOJ has not provided a publicly available report since 2012, leaving taxpayers in the dark about the progress government agencies are making toward meeting accessibility standards. That 2012 report reflected serious gaps in accessibility across the federal government and the Senators are demanding DOJ address these issues for people with disabilities.

"On behalf of the 26 percent of Americans living with a disability, including the 40 percent of people over age 65 who have a disability, we write to urge DOJ to take immediate steps to meet its obligations and once again issue these biennial reports," wrote the Senators. "Without regular reports, Congress, taxpayers, and agencies themselves lack a crucial source of feedback for identifying and resolving longstanding accessibility issues," wrote the Senators.

The latest report on federal government accessibility compliance in 2012 included recommendations for federal agencies to meet accessibility requirements, including appointing "Section 508 coordinators" and establishing "[Section] 508 offices or programs" to ensure every agency is equipped to meet the accessibility standards set by the Rehabilitation Act.

Shapiro secures settlement to stop telemarketing violations

Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week announced that his office entered into an agreement that will put an end to illegal telemarketing practices by Indra Energy.

The settlement is with retail energy suppliers PalmCo Energy PA, LLC and PalmCo Power PA, LLC, which do business in Pennsylvania under the name Indra Energy.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General's investigation revealed that Indra Energy engaged in a wide range of violations relating to its telemarketing operations in Pennsylvania.

"Unwanted phone calls continue to harass and plague Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth," Shapiro said. "I want to thank all of the consumers who filed complaints about Indra Energy and brought their behavior to my attention. My office is committed to putting a stop to these unwanted calls and with today's settlement we help ensure that companies follow the law when calling consumers."

The settlement claims that Indra Energy, through its vendors, violated telemarketing laws by: repeatedly calling numbers registered on the Do-Not-Call list, delivering pre-recorded messages to numbers on the Do-Not-Call list, failing to obtain an "express request" from consumers on the Do-Not-Call list prior to calling them, using misleading offers regarding energy savings and rebates, and engaging in deceptive practices in connection with requests to be contacted for purposes of telemarketing solicitations.

Under the terms of this settlement, in addition to being prohibited from making unwanted telemarketing calls, Indra Energy must pay $185,900, which includes payments of $100 to each of the 9 consumers who filed a telemarketing complaint against Indra Energy.

This settlement also serves as an important reminder to consumers to not be misled by deceptive telemarketing offers regarding energy saving.When considering switching your electric or gas supplier, the PA Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) suggests taking these actions:

Wolf urges Congress to preserve Affordable Care Act subsidies

Gov. Tom Wolf this week urged Congress to take action to preserve Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to ensure that individuals and families who were eligible for this important subsidy may continue to obtain health care.

In a joint letter, Gov. Wolf and 13 other governors urged Congress to take action and ensure funding is in place to preserve ACA subsidies known as advanced premium tax credits (APTCs), which were expanded through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The ARPA-expanded subsidy eligibility is set to expire at the end of the current plan year, leaving consumers exposed to dramatic premium increases.

"Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians will be impacted if this subsidy expansion expires in October, which will mean their insurance premiums will increase, putting individuals in a health and financial risk," Wolf said. "It's critical that we continue to make affordable coverage as accessible as possible to as many as possible, and I applaud President Joe Biden for his leadership to not only expand coverage as part of ARPA, but also to make it permanent. I urge Congress to make these subsidies permanent so that Pennsylvanians can continue to have a better quality of life through affordable comprehensive ACA coverage."

Wolf has made access to affordable health coverage a priority throughout his administration.

Wolf expanded Medicaid in 2015 — one of his first acts as governor — ensuring more Pennsylvanians have access to Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania. Today, more than 3.3 million Pennsylvanians are covered by Medical Assistance.

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.