No fee required to apply for rebate, says AG’s office
As the deadline approaches for the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, some seniors have received letters offering to fill out the forms for a fee.
A Scottdale resident received one from a company called Senior Advisory Center, based in Harrisburg, which offers assistance for a $39 processing fee.
While not illegal, such services are rarely necessary, said Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the office of Attorney General Tom Corbett. “Earlier this fall, we began to see a wave of calls from consumers. Our concern is that many times individuals may get a fee-based offer. We recommend that people first check with the governmental agencies. Why would you want to pay an intermediary to fill out your paperwork?”
Frederiksen said in some cases, such as federal tax forms, assistance may be helpful. “But state and federal programs don’t require an agent to fill out a form.”
He suggested taking a practical approach and filling out the rebate form or getting free help from a friend or relative. “In these current economic times, you certainly want to save some money by doing this yourself.”
If a resident is concerned about the legitimacy of an offer to help with a state form, Frederiksen suggested contacting that state department directly.
“If someone thinks someone is engaged in deceptive activity, contact the Attorney General’s office,” he said. “We review all complaints.”
The consumer hot line is 1-800-441-2555.
The state Department of Revenue, which administers the program, said there is no fee to apply for the rebate.
The department also reported the income eligibility level for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been raised from $15,000 a year to $35,000 a year, excluding half of Social Security income. In addition, the maximum rebate was increased from $500 to $650 for homeowners. The rebate amount depends on income. The deadline was extended to Dec. 31.
Claimants or spouses 65 years of age or older, widows or widowers 50 years of age or older, and the permanently disabled 18 years of age or older may qualify. Forms are available from the department, at most state legislators’ offices and at state offices. Those with internet access can download the form at www.revenue.state.pa.us or receive assistance by calling the department at 1-888-222-9190.