Monday, June 19, 2017

Senators Introduce Plan to Eliminate School Property Taxes in PA

A bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers have joined together to introduce a plan drafted by over 80 grassroots taxpayer groups from across the state to eliminate school property taxes for the state’s 500 public school districts, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks).

Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, would replace the revenue generated by the property tax for public schools with an increase to the Personal Income Tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent and an increase in the Sales and Use Tax from 6 to 7 percent. The tax would also be expanded to cover more goods and services that are currently exempt.

The bill has attracted eight prime sponsors and 12 additional cosponsors in the Senate so far. The bill’s eight prime sponsors – four Republicans and four Democrats – believe it’s long overdue to enact this much-needed reform.

Argall and Senators Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton), Scott Wagner (R-York), Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton) and Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) issued the following statement voicing their support of the bill:

“School property taxes are by far the fastest-rising tax in Pennsylvania and the largest concern from the residents we represent across the state. Efforts to reform the archaic tax in the past, while well-intentioned, have fallen short of the expectations of taxpayers. This plan is unlike any other piece of legislation as it was drafted by hardworking men and women across this state dedicated to the eradication of the 1834 model of funding our public schools. Clearly the time has come to eliminate school property taxes and in this age of partisanship, this is an issue that crosses party lines since it affects every property owner of this state.”

David Baldinger, leader of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Association – the group of citizen activists pushing the legislation – said this is the people’s bill.

“For too long, we’ve been overpromised school property tax relief. Thanks to the hard work of many concerned residents across this state, we have a bill that paves the way towards the total elimination – not partial reduction – of school property taxes across the state. This was drafted by volunteers, not lobbyists or special interests, to look out for the best interest of property owners. We’ve said all along: no tax shall have the power to leave you homeless. This is our solution – the people’s solution – and we look forward to a robust debate in the legislature on this critical issue.”

Senate Bill 76 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The issue was last voted on November 23, 2015, when it was defeated on a 24-24 tie vote. The Lieutenant Governor then broke the tie, voting no, making the final tally 24 votes for, with 25 votes against.
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  1. This seems very fair. Everybody would fund the schools...renters, property owners, as well as anybody that buys goods in the state.

  2. I think this is a great idea. Something has to do something with this school tax already. My question is why is it always the working person. Why can't they just higher the 6% sales tax and then everyone has to pay for it. It would be an equal for everyone.

  3. just like the Casinos were supposed to eliminate my property taxes....they lied to us....Don't be fooled again ...they will raise sales tax from 6 to 7% and your income tax by almost 2% and you will still be paying school taxes

    1. Yes, we seen this bull since the 80s when they raise the PA fuel tax and raise driver and vehicle registration fees and we still have the worst roads in the nation, but at least the politicians pockets are full.

  4. I think it horrible that SENIOR CITIZENS who have no one in schools...are losing their lifelong homes because of high school taxes...

    1. I have no kids in school, but I'm a home owner and pay $1,550.00 a year in school tax. 2 more years and I'll be retired too and still be paying school tax. Trust me I'll pay 1% more in sales tax...

    2. I have yet to see a senior citizen's house on a tax list. Most properties on the list are abandoned structures in poor condition owned by investors.

  5. This bill is a bad idea for many reasons.

    First--most of the "new" taxes will be paid by individuals--you and I. Businesses (think large factories, large office buildings, amusement parks, apartment complexes, etc.) will no longer pay property tax...and will be largely exempt from the new taxes.

    That means we--as individuals--will be paying more to make up the difference.

    Day care would be taxable! It's not hard to have to spend $10,000/year in day care expenses, especially if you have two kids in full time at a half-decent program. That's $700 in new taxes right there.

    And that's not even where things get weird. Non-WIC food is taxable. Look at the WIC list to see what you will now have to pay tax on.

    A block of cheese is tax free (provided it is of certain types). Sliced cheese at the deli? Taxable.

    Regular yogurt is tax free...but "Greek yogurt" is taxable.

    Certain brands of certain products are tax free, but the same item of a different brand (or a slightly different flavor--such as juice) magically makes an item taxable.

    You won't have to pay tax on peanut butter...unless you buy more than 18 ounces or less than 12 ounces, in which case it is taxable.

    Eggs-- not taxable if you buy a dozen. If you buy 18 or 24...that's taxable.

    I'm not a fan of the property tax either...but at least everybody is paying--including the billion dollar corporations that own properties. This is a hastily contrived sham pushed through by extremist groups in an effort to shift the tax burden to individuals.