Cost-of-Living Adjustments Won't Ruin Chance at Rebate

Nov 16, 2014

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) will no longer disqualify Pennsylvanians from receiving a tax rebate if their annual earnings were pushed over the income ceiling as a result.

The Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program, which gives money to many older and disabled Pennsylvanians on a fixed income, had to adjust to COLAs or else individuals would be unfairly disqualified, according to Pennsylvania Department of Revenue spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell.

The program has a cap on income eligibility. Homeowners who make more than $35,000 annually and renters who bring in more than $15,000 per year are excluded from the rebates.

However, recent COLAs of 1.5 to 1.7 percent were pushing some Pennsylvanians over the program’s income ceiling.

“Prior to this legislative change, what was happening was that some applicants to the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program, their income was not increasing except for cost of living adjustments that social security makes,” Brassell said.

With the change, homeowners who made up to $35,595 in 2013, counting only half of Social Security, are eligible to receive a rebate from the program. Renters with a 2013 income up to $15,255 can apply as well.

There is also good news for those who already applied and were denied claims this year.

“We’re automatically reopening all of those claims and reprocessing them without any taxpayer action,” Brassell said. “There’s no need for those folks to reach out to us. We will reach out if we need additional information, but we are proactively reopening cases impacted by this statute change.”

The deadline to apply for a rebate for claim year 2013 is Dec. 31.