How the Pennsylvania property tax rebate works

Pennsylvanian man figuring out his property tax rebate.Image: Pennsylvanian man figuring out his property tax rebate.

In a Nutshell

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides a property tax and rent rebate to eligible low-income seniors, surviving spouses and people with disabilities. This year, rebate checks started going out earlier than usual to help those dealing with the financial impact of COVID-19.
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and CPA candidate Janet Murphy, senior product specialist with Credit Karma.

Many states provide some form of tax relief for local property taxes, although not all homeowners qualify. In Pennsylvania, only certain groups of low-income homeowners can receive a property tax rebate.

And while property tax and rent rebate payments generally go out in one shot on July 1, things are a bit different in 2020 because of the coronavirus.



What is the PA property tax rebate?

Pennsylvania’s property tax rebate program (which also provides rebates to qualified renters) started in 1971, and is supported by revenue from the Pennsylvania Lottery. The program is intended to provide property tax relief to older adults, widows and widowers, and people with permanent disabilities.

Who qualifies for the PA property tax rebate?

Only a small portion of Pennsylvania’s residents receive the rebate. Eligibility requirements are specific and narrow. Here are some that apply to both homeowners and renters claiming the rebate.

  • Must be 65 or older
  • Must be 50 or older if a widow or widower
  • Must be 18 or older if disabled
  • Must provide documentation of your eligibility (for example, proof of age or proof of disability)

On top of that, if you apply as a homeowner you must meet these requirements.

  • Have owned and occupied your home in Pennsylvania
  • Have paid property taxes on the home (or someone paid property taxes on your behalf)
  • Meet income limits for the claim year — for 2019, the limit was $35,000 or less 

And if you apply as a renter you must also meet these requirements.

  • Have occupied a home (house, apartment, nursing home, boarding home or similar residence) in Pennsylvania
  • Paid rent on the home
  • Have a landlord who paid property taxes (or another payment in lieu of property taxes) on your rental home
  • Have annual income of $15,000 or less (for 2019)
  • Not have received cash public assistance during the year — you won’t be eligible for the rebate during months when you received the assistance

Here are a few other points to note.

  • If you’re a senior homeowner in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Scranton and your household’s 2019 income was less than $30,000, your property tax rebate can increase by 50% as calculated by the state.
  • If you’re a senior living anywhere else in the state, with 2019 household income less than $30,000, and you pay more than 15% of your income toward property taxes, you can also get a 50% increase in your rebate amount.
  • When calculating your annual income for eligibility purposes, you can exclude half your Social Security income.
  • Even if more than one member of your household meets eligibility requirements, only one of you can claim a rebate.
Is Social Security taxable?

How do you apply for the rebate?

To apply for the rebate, you’ll need to complete and file a claim form — PA-1000, Property Tax or Rent Rebate Claim (in PDF format) — by the filing deadline, which is typically June 30. You’ll need to apply every year. When applying you can request direct deposit of your rebate by providing your bank account information on the application form. If you don’t provide direct deposit information, your rebate should be mailed as a check.

After June 1, you can call 888-728-2937 to check on the status of your rebate. You can also use the Where’s My PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate online tool.

How much is the rebate worth?

The amount of your rebate is based on your income and whether you rent or own the home you’re claiming the rebate for. 

Here were the maximum standard rebate amounts for 2019.

Homeowners maximum rebate amounts

Income

Maximum rebate amount

$0–$8,000

$650

$8,001–$15,000

$500

$15,001–$18,000

$300

$18,001–$35,000

$250

Renters maximum rebate amounts

Income

Maximum rebate amount

$0–$8,000

$650

$8,001–$15,000

$500

It’s worth noting that supplemental rebates, such as the extra 50% for seniors living in certain locations or with income less than $30,000, can boost the maximum rebate amount to $975 for some homeowners.


Bottom line

In 2018, the Pennsylvania property tax rebate program paid out more than $243 million to eligible homeowners and renters. But the number of eligible Pennsylvanians who receive the financial support is only around 4% of the state’s total population.

If you don’t qualify for the rebate as an older homeowner, surviving spouse or disabled person, it may be worth exploring other federal and state tax breaks for homeowners.


How has COVID-19 affected the PA property tax rebate?

Property tax rebates typically start to go out on July 1. But in response to the coronavirus pandemic, this year the state began issuing early rebates on May 20 on a first-in, first-out basis.

The commonwealth has also extended the application deadline to Dec. 31, 2020.

Relevant sources:

Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program | Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Property Tax Rent Rebate Program 2018 Statistical Report | Pennsylvania Property Tax or Rent Rebate Program 2019 Application | Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Brochure | PA Media News Release, May 19, 2020: Gov. Tom Wolf, Treasurer Joe Torsella Announce Property Tax/Rent Rebates Arriving Early to Help Seniors, Others During COVID-19 Pandemic | U.S. Census Bureau Pennsylvania Quick Facts


A senior product specialist with Credit Karma, Janet Murphy is a CPA candidate with more than a decade in the tax industry. She’s worked as a tax analyst, tax product development manager and tax accountant. She has accounting degrees and certifications from Clemson University and the U.S. Career Institute. You can find her on LinkedIn.


About the author: Evelyn Pimplaskar is Credit Karma’s tax editor. With nearly 30 years of experience in media, marketing, public relations and journalism, Evelyn’s written about nearly everything – from newspaper accounts of salacious … Read more.