Our mission is to provide access to clean, safe water to all residents of Philadelphia. If you’re having problems paying your water bill, we have programs that may help you.
You can now apply for all of the assistance programs using one application. If you are approved, you will have a lower monthly bill that will not change from month to month.
If you have your supporting documents ready, print, request, or start an application now. Or use the use the guidelines, checklist, and sample application to plan your application now.
Who should apply?
Anyone having trouble paying their water bill should apply for help. Assistance programs are designed to help Philadelphia Water Department customers who are:
- Low income
- Having a special hardship that makes it difficult to pay their water bills
You are eligible for the special hardship program if you have experienced any of the following circumstances in the past 12 months:
- Household grew: New baby added to the family, or a family member moved in
- Job loss: Main income-earner was out of work for four months, and was on unemployment
- Serious illness: Customer or family member has a life-threatening condition, or is receiving in-home care
- Family loss: Household’s primary income-earner passed away
- Domestic violence: Customer spent time in a shelter because of domestic violence
Even if you are not experiencing one of the hardships listed above, we decide claims on a case-by-case basis and may still be able to help. Report your specific situation when filling out the application.
Ways to apply
First, decide how you want to apply: online or by mail. If you apply online you’ll need electronic copies or pictures of all of your documents. If you apply by mail you’ll need photocopies of all your documents.
There can only be one application per household at a time. If you change your mind and decide you want to apply another way, you’ll have to start the process over.
If you apply online, you’ll need electronic copies of all of your documents (you can use a scanner, or take photos with your phone). You will need to send us your documents with your online application.
Use a computer, not a mobile device, to apply. If you take pictures of documents (like your driver’s license), make sure you can get the pictures off your device and onto the computer.
The online application takes about one hour to complete. But you don’t have to complete all of it at one time. You can save your incomplete application, and return to it later. To do so, you must provide a valid email address where we can send your application ID. You need this ID to access your saved application later.
Applying by mail
Use the online form to print an application, request that an application be mailed to you, or call (215) 685-6300 to have a representative send you an application in the mail.
If you apply by mail, be sure to make photocopies of your documents. Don’t send in any original documents.
Applying with help
Visit a partner location to work with a representative to fill out your application. Bring photocopies of all your paperwork. You will still need to mail in your application when finished.
The TAP application asks for documents to show who is in your household and your income.
Proof of residency
To prove you live at the address of the water account, you will need two of the documents listed below. Both documents must be valid.
- Current government issued ID with current address (such as driver’s license or ID card)
- Current rental agreement, or agreement for sale for the dwelling unit
- Recent utility bill, tax bill, or other tax record. You only need to include the first summary page showing your name and address, but it must have been sent within the last six months
- Lease, rent book, or money order receipts that show your address
For every person who lives with you, you’ll need:
- Date of birth
- Social security number for anyone age 18-65
Proof of income
You also need to show monthly income amounts for every source of income from all members of the household. Please make sure you have one of the following for each source of income:
- Previous year’s federal income tax return (only the page that shows name and gross income)
- Pay stubs showing 30 consecutive days of income. (For example: four weekly paychecks, starting with the first check of the month and ending with the last check of the month or two bi-weekly paychecks covering the same month of pay.)
- Benefit award letter or statement, such as: unemployment compensation printout, workers’ compensation award, Social Security letter, pension letter, or welfare benefits statement
- Income support statement from the individual providing support (example: if you receive child support, you need to document the current amount and source). You can either log in and print out a letter from the PA Child Support Program site or fill out a page of the application called Attachment A. You’ll need to provide name and contact information of the person providing support.
If you are applying because of a special hardship, then you will need one of the items below.
- For increase in household size: birth or adoption certificate for a child. You may need to supply other documentation for an adult that joins your home.
- For job loss: employment termination letter or unemployment compensation printout
- For serious illness: hospital admission or discharge documentation
- For death of the household’s primary wage earner: death certificate
- For victims of domestic violence or abuse: safe harbor program admission documentation
- Proof of current monthly household expenses, including most recent bills or statements for housing, utilities, medical, or childcare
- Proof of recent hardship claim approval by a state or local agency
- Other documentation approved by the Water Revenue Bureau
Delaying water shutoffs
If you are in danger of shut off, you will be granted a 14-day delay in order to submit the application. Your water will not be shut off while your application is under review.
If your application is denied, you will be notified by mail.
Finding out what discounts you will receive
It will take approximately two months for your application to be reviewed. You will be notified by mail if you are approved for one of the assistance programs, or if your application has been denied. If you qualify for more than one program you will be given the option to choose which program you prefer.
Note: Even if you are approved for a lower bill, you will be charged at normal rates for the water you use while your application is being processed. Continue to pay what you can while the application is being processed.
Appealing a decision
If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision.
To appeal, you must submit a petition form to the Tax Review Board (TRB). The form must be completed and sent within 60 days of the date on the letter stating your application was denied. You can:
- Request a petition for appeal by calling (215) 686-5216; or
- Download a petition for appeal from TRB’s website