I sometimes use this weekly column to answer your questions about matters relating to state government or any issue of concern. This week’s question deals with property tax reform legislation.
|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
Q: I haven’t heard much talk lately about eliminating our school property taxes? Have any bills been introduced in Harrisburg lately related to this issue?
Herb from Mountain Top
As you may remember, the General Assembly debated the Property Tax Independence Act during the 2016-17 session, but there was not enough support to enact the legislation (commonly referred to as House Bill 76
and Senate Bill 76
). The proposal would have eliminated school property taxes by applying the sales tax to more goods and services. In addition, the sales tax would have been increased to 7 percent and the Personal Income Tax to 4.95 percent.
You may be pleased to know that both bills have been reintroduced in their respective chambers in the current session. As of this writing, they are awaiting further consideration by the House and Senate Finance committees.
State lawmakers have studied and debated many property tax reform plans over the years. Several proposals have been enacted with the intent of providing relief to homeowners across Pennsylvania. However, additional legislation is introduced each session to address issues raised by constituents, local governments and school districts. Unfortunately, there has been difficulty coalescing over one idea due to vast geographical differences in the Commonwealth.
One of those changes was enacted last November, when voters passed a referendum that allows local governments to exclude up to the full value of a primary residence from a homeowner’s tax bill, as opposed to up to 50 percent of the median assessed home value, as was previously the case.
The next step is for the General Assembly to enact enabling legislation that would provide local governments with additional revenue streams, such as a local sales tax, that can be used to replace the funding currently supplied from property taxes. It is important to note that there are ongoing legislative discussions, and that enabling legislation will be the result of shared ideas and negotiations.
If you have a question regarding any state government-related matter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office