Gambling-financed program will give property owners from $52 to $213 in relief.

Last updated: May 02. 2013 11:50PM - 5509 Views
By - mguydish@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6112

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Money from legalized gambling will provide more than $13.4 million in property tax cuts for an expected 93,638 homeowners in area school districts in 2013-14, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Education.

Estimated tax relief for individual homes varies from a low of $52 in Dallas School District to a high of $213 in Wilkes-Barre Area, though complete data was not available for Hazleton Area School District.

The money comes from legalized gambling courtesy of the law known as Act 1 of 2006. The amount varies from year to year depending on how much money is generated. This year $611.6 million is available statewide.

The state uses a formula to determine how much each district will receive, and the district divides that money among all eligible property owners. Larger districts tend to get more money, though size isn’t the sole factor in the complicated distribution formula.

Locally, Dallas School District received the smallest total, getting $320,493 to distribute as tax exclusions to an estimated 6,116 eligible property owners. Wilkes-Barre Area received the most at $2.9 million to distribute to 13,622 people

Only homeowners and farm owners qualify for the break; commercial and rental properties do not.

The money comes in the form of homestead or farmstead “exclusions,” rather than a true tax cut, meaning the property owner is technically billed the full amount due and the exclusion is deducted off that bill.

In releasing estimated homestead exclusions for each school district Thursday, the state used data for the number of eligible properties from each county tax assessment office. In some cases, full data was not provided, so no estimated exclusion was given. Hazleton Area was one such case. The Times Leader used available data to calculate an approximation in the accompanying chart.

In all cases, the final exclusion amount will be calculated by the districts and could vary slightly from the state estimates.

This year’s total allocation statewide is $4 million less than last year.

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