There seems to be no shortage of people to complain about property taxes in York County, yet there are too few people applying for a state rebate program that gave about 19,000 Yorkers an average of $478 in the last fiscal year.
Lottery ticket sales and slots revenue fund the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, which is intended to give a break to older and disabled Pennsylvanians who don't exceed certain income levels.
The state has extended the June 30 application deadline to Dec. 31 every year for the past several years because there's still money left in the pot, about $6 million last year alone, but the state knows there are still uncounted people who qualify but haven't applied, said Maia Warren, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue.
While there's leftover money, the amounts of the refunds are set by statute and can't be increased unless legislators change the statute, she said.
There doesn't appear to be such a move on the horizon, but Warren said Revenue workers attempt to educate the public to apply if they're eligible.
"Ultimately, the money is there and we want individuals to apply for the money they deserve," she said.
Who's eligible: The program is available to both homeowners and renters age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities who are 18 and older. The annual income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 for renters, but half of any Social Security income the applicant receives is excluded from the limit.
Renters can get rebates of as much as $650, but homeowners who meet certain income qualifications can claim as much as $975.
Rebate distribution starts July 1, but rebates for those who apply after June 30 will be distributed as they're processed.
Statewide, about 600,000 people are expected to get refunds from the program.
Applications are available online at www.revenue.state.pa.us or by calling 1-888-222-9190.
While there are businesses that charge a fee for help filling out the applications, it is free to apply and free help is available at area senior centers and state legislators' offices, Department of Revenue district offices, and through the York County Area Agency on Aging.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.