Seniors reminded of free tax help |

Seniors reminded of free tax help

Local officials want seniors citizens to know that it’s not necessary to pay for help to fill out state property-tax or rent-rebate forms.

A California-based company using a Harrisburg address has been soliciting customers by mail offering to complete the forms for $39, according to Unity Tax Collector Mark Burkardt and North Huntingdon Tax Collector Shelley Buchanan.

Burkardt, Buchanan and state Sen. Kim Ward said they want to remind seniors that help is available for free at the Department of Revenue office in Greensburg and the county Area Agency on Aging. Many local tax collectors and state legislative offices also provide the free service.

Buchanan said her office got 10 calls Wednesday from residents questioning a Nov. 9 mailing from the Senior Advisory Center.

“Those are the people who actually called us,” she said. “I can’t imagine how many other people fell for it.”

Burkardt said a handful of residents contacted his office about the offer. The mailing carries California postmark, but the body of the solicitation references a Harrisburg address, Burkardt said.

According to Burkardt, the solicitation appears misleading in at least two other respects. First, it says the deadline for submitting paperwork to the state had been “extended” to Dec. 31. Burkardt said Dec. 31 was always the deadline.

In addition, the mailing claims the “maximum” rebate possible is $970. Burkardt said the maximum is $650.

Ward aide Tom Aikens said he spoke with state Department of Revenue officials Monday and they were aware of the solicitation.

Aikens said seniors should not have to pay for the service.

The solicitation asks seniors to provide a credit card number, if they choose to pay by credit card. The number should not be provided, Burkardt said.

The Property Tax or Rent Rebate Program is open to qualifying seniors 65 and older and those 18 and older who are permanently disabled. People making up to $35,000 a year may qualify for the program.

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