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21 April 2015
There are a number of things in this update that you can do to help the enactment of the Property Tax Independence Act; while all are important, I’ll start with the most urgent.
PLEASE SHARE! On April 30 at 7:00 PM there will be a LIVE statewide webcast of the Property Tax Independence Act presentation. This presentation will be conducted at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre for the local Luzerne and Lackawanna County audience but the webcast by far is the most important aspect of this event. There are many taxpayers from across the state who have never heard of the Property Tax Independence Act and this webcast presents a very important and unique opportunity to spread the word about this vital legislation and gain statewide support. I strongly urge you to forward this message to everyone in your Pennsylvania address book with a comment asking them to please watch the presentation. Details and a link to the webcast are available here.
The Property Tax Independence Act is on the move again! On April 10 the HB 76 Property Tax Independence Act co-sponsorship memorandum was issued in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. What differs from previous introductions of the legislation in the House is that the co-sponsorship memo was issued over the signatures of TEN Prime Sponsors – five Republicans and five Democrats from across the state – a tremendous demonstration of bipartisan support and geographic diversity for the legislation. You can view the memo and the names of the prime sponsors here. Please remember that this list contains only the prime sponsors but is not the entire list of co-sponsors that will be available when the bill is formally introduced. Please take a few moments to thank the prime sponsors and then contact your Representative to ask him or her to please co-sponsor the Property Tax Independence Act. Contact information for your Representative and Senator is available here.
Scam Alert! Many of you may have seen the news that Governor Tom Wolf has proposed his own property tax “relief” plan that he claims will reduce property taxes by an average 50% statewide. Like Governor Ed Rendell’s casino gambling revenue property tax relief scam, this is another fake proposal that falls far short of the promises.
The plan increases the state income tax from the current 3.07% to 3.70% and increases the sales tax to 6.6% on an expanded sales tax base of products and services. These increases are estimated to generate about $3.2 billion in revenue but total residential property taxes total just over $10 billion. In what way is that 50%?
But worse, the distribution of “relief” is as unfair as possible and in no way approaches 50% for the vast majority of homeowners. Example: According to a spreadsheet published on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website, homeowners in the Mars School District in Butler County will receive a 15.2% decrease while the residents of the West Greene School District in Green County will receive 306.89% (no, this is not a typo). This distribution model is tremendously inequitable and proves that the Wolf plan is nothing more than a massive redistribution of wealth from the many to the few. Analysts have estimated that residents in 405 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts will pay MORE in total taxes under the Wolf plan.
Although the Wolf plan claims to have measures in place to control future property tax increases these proposed controls are essentially meaningless. Under the Wolf plan property taxes will continue to increase at their current pace until all of the relief has been wiped out by those increases.
Finally, the most infuriating thing about this plan is that the Governor stole it from us! The basis of the Wolf plan is HB/SB 76, the legislation that took the grassroots working with lawmakers more than eighteen months to craft and for which we’ve been fighting for more than ten years. The Governor stole the details of the plan, then perverted and mangled them for his own purposes.
The Wolf plan is more meaningless grandstanding that has the potential to cause great harm to Pennsylvania homeowners and MUST be rejected. Please contact your Representative and Senator to let them know that the Wolf property tax relief plan is unacceptable.
Other recently-published articles critical of the Wolf plan have been written by noted individuals from across the state; click on the names to see the articles:
Yet another relief plan! Another property tax relief plan, HB 860, was introduced in the House on April 10 by Representative Stan Saylor of York County. Like the Wolf plan, this legislation increases the income tax to 3.70% but increases the sales tax to 7% on the current base. Representative Saylor claims that this will reduce property taxes by an average 40% - 70%. Although Representative Saylor says that there are cost controls built into the legislation to prevent property taxes from returning to their previous levels, the controls are weak at best.
The Saylor bill poses no immediate threat to HB/SB 76. We cannot advocate for this legislation nor will we, for the moment, oppose it. Legislation can undergo changes as it works its way through the General Assembly and there are many Property Tax Independence Act supporting lawmakers who may wish to alter the bill. We will continue to monitor this proposal carefully as it progresses through the legislative process and will respond accordingly to any changes. You can read the bill here.
Housekeeping. I’ll close with a few housekeeping items. If you’re a Facebook subscriber, please join the more than 4,000 members of the PTCC Facebook community to keep abreast of the latest news and commentary here. You can also follow the PTCC on Twitter: @pataxpayers. And if you change your email address please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your new address so you’ll receive all the future PTCC Updates.
That’s all for today. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support of property tax independence and be sure to contact your legislators about the items mentioned in this update. We, the grassroots, WILL be heard!
Join the effort and stay informed on how you can help! Subscribe to the free PTCC email updates here. (email@example.com)