York County homeowners can get, on average, about $165 knocked off their property tax bill just by filling out one sheet of paper by the end of the month.
But many are apparently unaware of it.
The Homestead & Farmstead Exclusion program, often called the property tax relief program, has been around since 2008.
Homeowners and farm owners simply have to fill out a form with the county assessor's office that says their home or farm is their primary residence, which officially makes it a homestead or a farmstead.
Friday, March 1, is the deadline to get in applications in order to have relief applied to this year's tax bills from school districts, said county chief assessor John Fedor. Slots revenue has provided the funding for the state-run program each year.
"There are plenty of people out there who don't know anything about homestead (relief)," Fedor said.
How to know: Once a home is accepted in the program, the homeowner never has to reapply, Fedor said. It's easy to tell if your home or farm has been accepted -- check the property tax bill.
A line item referring to "Homestead Exclusion" should appear on the bill, with a dollar amount that's been automatically taken off the total.
Anyone moving into a new house or who had other changes in ownership needs to reapply, on top of people who have never previously applied, Fedor said.
The one-page application requires basic information such as proof of residency -- a driver's license matching the address of the residence will do -- as well as the parcel number. The assessor's office can look up the parcel number if needed.
School districts should have forms available. Fedor said at this point, it's best to drop off the form at the assessor's office at the county administration building because the form must be received by March 1. The form is also available at yorkcountypa.gov under the assessor's office section.
The savings: Fedor acknowledged the tax relief isn't much outside of York City, where homestead relief is about $490.
But $150 or $160 can add up for people on tight incomes. Final totals on this year's district-by-district relief should be available in April.
And people who own and live in a mobile home, in particular, can benefit from homestead relief, Fedor said. Too many mobile home owners are delinquent on paying their property taxes that might have been all but wiped out if they had only signed up.
"It's sad," Fedor said. "They could have no school tax bill."
For information on signing up for homestead status, contact the county assessor's office at 771-9232.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at email@example.com