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New law signed in Scranton aims to help seniors

Governor Josh Shapiro signs HB 1100 into law, expanding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program, while in Scranton on Friday, Aug. 4.
Office of the Governor
Governor Josh Shapiro signs HB 1100 into law, expanding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program, while in Scranton on Friday, Aug. 4.

Gaylene Macuska can now receive up to $350 dollars more a year under the state’s new expanded Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

“That might not seem like a whole lot of money to you but for thousands of older Pennsylvanians, it's a lifeline that helps pay the bills," said Macuska, a South Scranton resident. "I know that to be true.”

Just one day after Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro signed the state budget into law, he was in Lackawanna County to sign HB 1100, which expands the Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program. Macuska joined Shapiro and representatives from the state and legislature from across Pennsylvania at United Neighborhood Center’s Healthy Aging Campus.

The bill amends the taxpayers relief act. Rebates for seniors are increasing from $650 to $1,000; 173,000 more PA seniors will qualify. In Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, almost 40,000 seniors could benefit from the expansion.

The bill also increased the maximum income cap for renters and homeowners to $45,000. That income cap will now grow with inflation. It’s the first time in 17 years that the increase on income limits is rising, said Shapiro.

State Rep. Steve Samuelson serves parts of Northampton County. He was the prime sponsor of the act.

"This bill helps renters. This bill helps homeowners and as you can see we are helping our seniors stay in their homes," he said.

Samuelson said the bill had overwhelming support in both the house and the senate.

“I know we live in hyperpolarized, hyper partisan times," said Shapiro. "But this is what it looks like when Republicans and Democrats come together to actually get stuff done.”

The updated program is the largest targeted tax cuts for seniors in nearly two decades in Pennsylvania, said Shapiro, who's heard firsthand from seniors who are struggling with the rising prices.

“We're going to make sure our seniors get to live out their golden years with dignity and stay in the homes that they built and enjoy the wonderful friends and family in their communities," he said.

Residents can apply for the expanded Property Tax/Rent Rebate program beginning on Jan. 1.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.