Pennsylvania senior citizens’ school district property taxes could be frozen if a bill working its way through the state legislature is passed into law.
State Rep. Dan Williams, D-Thorndale, and state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, are co-sponsors of the bipartisan effort. The bill was first introduced in January and in late June was referred to the House Finance Committee for further review.
The proposal, introduced as House Bill 1675, has since gained the support of 21 other House legislators. To date, the bill’s total sponsorship includes 20 Democrats and three Republicans
In a memo, Williams said the rationale behind HB 1675 was to assist seniors bringing in little to no income. It also was crafted around the parameters of the state’s median real estate tax bill, which currently stands at $2,603 annually.
The goal, he said, is to give “Pennsylvania’s senior citizens peace of mind that their property taxes will not skyrocket in the coming years.”
Williams cited U.S. Census statistics, pointing out 17,000 Pennsylvania seniors bring in no income each month. An additional 409,000 seniors across the state make $20,000 or less annually.
“That means there are thousands of seniors whose annual income is small and whose property tax rebate will not cover all of their bill,” Williams, who has been designated prime sponsor of HB 1675, wrote in the memo.
He added, “As property taxes increase, the property tax bills increase, those property tax bills will get hard and harder to pay for some of our older Pennsylvanians, straining their finances and fueling their worries.”
As proposed, HB 1675 is designed to apply to seniors in specific circumstances. In its current draft, it would apply to residents age 65 and up who have qualified for a homestead property tax exemption at their current residence in the past five years.
“Under my plan, seniors would be able to have confidence when it comes time to pay their property tax bills each year, without any added uncertainty for schools,” Williams wrote.
While school districts are singled out in HB 1675, Williams said the proposal has mechanisms in place to fortify public education.
“School districts would not have to struggle with the loss of this funding,” Williams wrote. “The state would reimburse school districts from the Property Tax Relief Fund.”
A date for the House Finance Committee’s review of HB 1675 has yet to be solidified.