As another year moves along quickly, we also get closer to the deadline for residents to file applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program (PTRR).The latest figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue show that more than 540,000 older and disabled Pennsylvanians have received rebates this year through the expanded PTRR program. However, the same figures indicate that an additional 216,000 eligible residents throughout the Commonwealth have yet to apply.

In Chester County alone, the estimate of those who have yet to take advantage of the program is as high as 1,857 people. So far this year, the PTRR has provided more than $218 million in property tax and rent relief to more than half a million homeowners and renters in Pennsylvania.

Under the program, eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2006. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities.

Eligibility income limits for homeowners were recently expanded to the following levels, excluding 50 percent of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits:

* $0 and $8,000, $650 rebate (Homeowners and renters)

* $8,001 to $15,000, $500 rebate (Homeowners and renters)

* $15,001 to $18,000, $300 rebate (Homeowners only)

* $18,001 to $35,000, $250 rebate (Homeowners only)

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of four programs supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which uses its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Since the program began in 1971, more than $3.76 billion has been paid to qualified applicants.

Property taxes remain a complicated issue here in Harrisburg, but I remain committed to working toward real property tax relief for Pennsylvanians. I encourage all residents of the 13th Legislative District who meet the above criteria to apply as soon as possible. The PTRR program is a great means of getting some of that hard-earned money back into your hands at a time of year when it is most likely needed for more important things.

Residents are reminded to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms are available by contacting my office at 610-593-6565, or by visiting my website at www.ArtHershey.com.

Correction In the Dec. 27, 2007- Jan. 2, 2008 edition, in the Commentary section, the Oxford Tribune incorrectly labeled a Guest Column from Rep. Art Hershey, when in fact it was a press release from another party. We apologize for the mistake and would like to inform readers that the views expressed in the previously printed article were not those of Rep. Hershey. The accompanying article is Hershey's views.

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