Bill would exempt some from yearly tax relief form

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Longtime city of Pittsburgh homeowners with low incomes would no longer have to apply annually for a property tax break under a bill tentatively approved by City Council yesterday.

Instead, under Councilman Patrick Dowd's legislation, residents 50 and older would only have to fill out the city's Act 77 tax relief form once. Then they would have their assessments frozen until they moved or reported an increase in income.

"We hear from folks that it is unfair that they have to fill this out every year," said Mr. Dowd of the Act 77 form.

Councilman Ricky Burgess abstained, because he had questions about how the city would know if, say, a senior homeowner won the lottery and no longer qualified for the benefit.

"We should assume honesty in the taxpayer," Mr. Dowd said.

A final vote could come next week.

If residents 50 or older have owned their home for 10 years or more, and the household income is under $30,000 counting only half of Social Security and some other benefits, they can apply for the tax break. If they bought their home before 1993, it is taxed based on its value in that year. If they bought their home after 1993, it is taxed based on the value during the first full year in which they owned it.

Homeowners with questions can call 412-255-2525.


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