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TAXING TIMES: Getting help

Programs can provide tax relief for some property owners

Saturday, August 26, 2000

Commercial and Industrial Property, Act 46

Some Allegheny County municipalities offer property tax abatements for commercial and industrial development. For information, call 412-350-3797.

Disabled Veterans

Veterans who are 100 percent disabled from injuries or disease that occurred during a period of war or conflict during which they served are eligible for 100 percent property tax relief. For more information or an application, call 412-621-4357.

Farmland & Forest Land Preservation Act

This state law allows counties to assess farm and forest acreage at a value based on the crops or trees the land can support, which is usually lower than its market value. In return, landowners must promise to keep the land in farm or forest use. Landowners who remove the land from the program must pay the difference between its preferential assessed value and its market value for the seven most recent tax years, plus interest. For information, call 412-350-4600.

Gentrification program, Pittsburgh

The gentrification program is offered by the city and Pittsburgh Public Schools. It allows relief for homeowners in certain neighborhoods that have experienced substantial renovation and new construction and have been identified by the city as a gentrified area. Homeowners who have owned their homes at least 10 years and who experience an increase in assessed value of more than 5 percent over the previous year may apply.

The program gradually adjusts new property assessments upward at a rate of not more than 5 percent a year.

Applications are available at most Senior Centers, city Department of Finance offices in the City-County Building, and at the City of Pittsburgh's Web site: www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us.

Home Purchase or Construction, Act 42, Pittsburgh

If you buy or build a new home in the city of Pittsburgh, up to $2,065 of its assessed value can be removed from tax rolls for up to three years.

If you improve your Pittsburgh home, and those improvements increase the home's assessed value, up to $7,675 of that increase may be removed from the tax rolls for up to three years. For information, call 412-350-4600 or contact the Allegheny County Web site, www.county.allegheny.pa.us/paar/act42.asp.

Allegheny County has a similar program, but it expires at the end of this year.

Senior Citizens Act 77, Allegheny County

Allegheny County residents who are 62 or older and have income of less than $25,000 per year may have their property assessments frozen at 1993 levels if they own their homes and have lived in them for at least 10 years.

Widows or widowers who are 50 years or older also qualify for the freeze, as do disabled persons 18 years or older, if they meet the income standard. Proof of disability is required.

The particulars:

The $25,000 income limit can exclude Medicare benefits.

Proof of age and income is required.

Application deadline for 2001 is Dec. 31.

For information, call 350-4600. Application forms are also available at the county's Web site: www.county.allegheny.pa.us/paar/act77.asp.

Senior Citizens Act 77, Pittsburgh

The city of Pittsburgh uses the same rules as Allegheny County for its Act 77 program, except that city residents are eligible for city tax relief beginning at age 50.

City residents over 62 can apply through Allegheny County to have their assessments frozen at 1993 levels. The same rules shown for the county apply. City residents between 50 and 62 need to apply directly to the city.

Applications are available at most Senior Centers, city Department of Finance offices in the City-County Building, and at the city of Pittsburgh's Web site: www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us.

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