School districts have until May 31 to be included in the tax relief program.
The deadline for Pennsylvania residents to file applications for the Homestead and Farmstead Exclusions is March 1.
Michael DeForest of the Mercer County Revenue Department said an application can be obtained by sending a request with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the county Homestead/Farmstead office, 6 Mercer County Courthouse, Mercer, Pa. 16137. It can also be printed from the Mercer County Web site, www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us, then clicking on County Information, or call the Revenue Department at (724) 662-3800, Ext. 2232, 2505 or 2233.
Lawrence County residents should have received an application from their school districts. Or they can visit the county Web site, www.co.lawrence.pa.us, or contact the county assessment office for more information at (724) 656-2176.
The Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion is a method of property tax relief for homeowners that will reduce assessed values of homesteads for school taxes. The exclusion was authorized by Act 72 of the Pennsylvania Legislature and went into effect in September. It allows school districts to opt into the program that would reduce homeowners' school tax burden by using revenue from slot machines to replace part of the local tax revenue. DeForest said school districts have until May 31 to decide if they will participate. However, homeowners must apply by March 1.
The earliest the tax relief would come is for tax year 2006. He said it is impossible to tell how much an individual would save because it will vary by school district and depend on revenue from slot machines that will installed in the state's horse racing tracks and other venues.
The only qualification is that the property must be the taxpayer's primary residence.
Farm buildings are also eligible for the exclusion as long as the farm is the permanent residence of at least one owner. The farmhouse itself would qualify for the Homestead Exclusion.