Senior Citizen Tax Exchange Program

Senior Tax Exchange Program (S.T.E.P.)

What IS S.T.E.P.?

The Senior Tax Exchange Program (S.T.E.P.) allows Ephrata Area School District homeowners, age 65 and over, to work for the District in exchange for payment, which they can choose to apply to their school property taxes.  A maximum of $550 in net income can be earned per person between July 1 and June 30.

Why Was S.T.E.P. Established?

The Ephrata Area School District recognizes the increasing tax burden on property owners.  This burden is caused by increasing expenses due to state and federal mandates; the rising cost of salary and benefits; increases in fuel oil, electric, and diesel fuel; and the decrease in government funding.  In an effort to reduce the tax burden of the senior citizen community, Ephrata Area School District offers a Senior Tax Exchange Program (S.T.E.P.).

Goals of S.T.E.P.

The most important goal of S.T.E.P. is to reduce the tax burden on senior citizens within the Ephrata Area School District.  Approved seniors will be provided the opportunity to earn a net income of up to $550 per school year, which they can choose to apply to their school property taxes.

Work may be performed in numerous areas, including but not limited to:

  • Tutoring
  • Assisting in the Library
  • Assisting Students with Computers
  • Reading with Students
  • Instructional Aide                                                                                                                       
  • Playground Aide
  • Preparing Bulletin Boards
  • Athletic Event Ticket Taker
  • Office Filing

How Do Students Benefit from S.T.E.P.?

An important aspect of this program is to utilize the great skill-set and resources of our area senior citizens.  It will also help increase interaction between the senior citizen community, the District, and students.


Qualifications

  • Any Ephrata Area School District resident age 65 and over who owns his/her home can apply to participate in the program.  Residents cannot be delinquent on their taxes.
  • S.T.E.P. workers are subject to a $50,000 earned income limitation per person.  Proper documentation of income levels is required.
  • The Ephrata Area School District recognizes that some senior citizens may be physically or emotionally unable to work in S.T.E.P.  Qualifying senior citizens may have a qualified “alternate” work on their behalf.  The “alternate” must live in the Ephrata Area School District, be at least 18 years of age, and elect to contribute 100% of his/her earnings to a designated, qualified senior citizen within the District.
  • “Alternates” are subject to all wage and tax consequences of employment.
  • Each applicant and “alternate” is subject to all District employment requirements.  Qualifications will be evaluated, and selection will be made at the sole discretion of the District.
  • Participation is subject to availability of positions within the School District and is not guaranteed.

Schedule

  • Maximum S.T.E.P. earnings between July 1 and June 30 are a net income of $550 per person.  Earnings will be at the rate of the current minimum wage.  Any hours worked beyond the normal work day or beyond the $550 per person limit are on a volunteer basis.
  • Two S.T.E.P. employees may work from one household, earning a total of $1,100.  Net earnings may not exceed the total school property tax bill for their home.
  • Under Pennsylvania law and requirements of Lancaster County, all real estate taxes shall be paid in full by December 31.  If taxes are not paid in full by December 31, the District is required to turn the taxes over to the Lancaster County Tax Claim Bureau for collection and possible tax sale.

Application Process

Applicants should complete the following:

  • A full employment application packet
  • The required clearances:

           – Act 34 – PSP Criminal Record Check

           – Act 151 – Child Abuse History Certification

           – Act 114 – Federal FBI Criminal History Clearance

  • Pre-Employment Physical (District Provided Form) Including TB Test
  • Pre-Employment Drug Screening

Applicants must complete a Statement of Interest that is available at the bottom of this page, which lets the District know the participant’s areas of expertise/interest.  Applicants will be interviewed in order to properly match them to an open “employment position.”  Participants will receive a brief orientation and then be assigned to their position.

Applications are accepted anytime throughout the year.

Evaluations

Evaluations will be completed annually or at any time that a participant leaves the program or changes positions/buildings.  Any participant who is evaluated as unacceptable will not be permitted to participate in the S.T.E.P. program in the future.

Work Assignments

The District Office will base work assignments on interests, experience, and qualifications, as well as the availability of appropriate assignments.  Program participants must complete a time sheet of hours worked each week and submit it to the administrator or supervisor overseeing their work assignment.  The time sheet will be forwarded to the District payroll office for processing.

Tax Relief Credit Posting

The District payroll office will record hours worked by the S.T.E.P. participant between July 1 and June 30 and will calculate the total net earnings for tax relief applicable to the subsequent year’s school property tax payments.  W-2s will be issued to the S.T.E.P. participant on a calendar year calculation.  Participants should be aware that any income received from the S.T.E.P. program could alter their eligibility for certain other tax credits or deductions and/or entitlements to other federal and state benefit programs.

Orientation and Training

Each participant will be required to successfully complete an orientation and training session introducing the employee to District procedures and appropriate conduct on school property prior to starting any work assignment.  The orientation session will be a time for the participant to ask any questions he or she may have concerning the program, procedures, assignments, etc.

Necessary Documents

Statement of Interest (PDF) – (STEP application must complete to apply)

STEP Weekly Time Sheets (PDF)