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Property tax, rent rebate expansion to benefit more than 8K in Lehigh Valley

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Thousands of people throughout Lehigh and Northampton counties could qualify for the first time in 2024 for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program.

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. — An expansion to the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program could provide well-timed relief for thousands of seniors in the Lehigh Valley, with several municipalities looking to raise taxes or fees in 2024.

Legislation Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law in mid-August “delivers the largest targeted tax cut for Pennsylvania seniors in nearly two decades,” according to the state Department of Revenue.

About 175,000 residents throughout the state will qualify for rebates on their property taxes and rent bills for the first time in 2024.

That number includes about 4,500 people in Lehigh County and 3,700 in Northampton County, according to the governor’s office.

Many of the 430,000 people in Pennsylvania who previously qualified will be eligible for larger rebates, officials said.

The Department of Revenue is raising its income limits for rebates, with the cap for homeowners climbing from $35,000 to $45,000.

Senior renters who make up to $45,000 may also qualify for rebates. That limit was set at $15,000.

Income limits will be tied to cost-of-living adjustments, “meaning those who receive a rebate won’t lose their eligibility in the future due to no fault of their own,” officials said.

The maximum standard rebate is set to increase from $650 to $1,000 after the recent expansion.

The Department of Revenue is expected to start accepting applications in mid-January for rebates on property taxes and rent seniors paid in 2023.

Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits residents 65 and older; widows and widowers 50 and older; and adults with disabilities.

Officials in the Lehigh Valley’s two biggest cities are mulling tax increases in 2024, while water fees are due to climb in municipalities across Lehigh County next year.

“For seniors that are on that line, that are struggling, there are resources out there to capture more rebates from the state."
Allentown City Council member Santo Napoli

Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds is asking council to approve a 2.6% property tax hike. The city is also facing an 8% jump in sewer fees.

Meanwhile, Allentown officials are in a standoff over Mayor Matt Tuerk’s latest 2% tax-increase proposal, with a majority of council members holding firm against raising taxes.

Allentown and Bethlehem Township could also be hit with higher sewer rates.

Amid budget negotiations and votes on a proposed tax increase Nov. 15, Allentown City Council member Santo Napoli urged seniors to take advantage of the expanded rebates.

“I do feel for seniors,” he said, explaining the program’s changes to residents in council chambers.

“For seniors that are on that line, that are struggling, there are resources out there to capture more rebates from the state,” Napoli said.