PENNSYLVANIA TAXPAYERS CYBER COALITION

Dedicated To Equitable Tax Funding Of Pennsylvania Schools

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NEW! April 16, 2014 Update. URGENT ACTION ITEM. A vote is coming and your help is needed now! Details are here.

December 17, 2013 Update. Major supporters join the effort in a big way; a remarkable SB 76 Senate hearing. Details are here.

October 11, 2013 Update. Deceit and lies in the PA House of Representatives; we're still fighting; a GREAT day! Details are here.

NEW! What is your potential school property tax increase for 2014? The 2014-2015 Act 1 index is here.

Your home's equity is being stolen! How property taxes are reducing your home's value. Click here.

The brutality of tax eviction! A deputy sheriff speaks out. Click here.







* ACTION ITEM *
The Real Faces of the Issue. Click here.

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Features

Personal Property Tax Independence Act Tax Calculator
Excel calculator to see your tax savings under the provisions ofThe Property Tax Independence Act. Now includes calculations for Philadelphia property tax reduction!

The Property Tax Independence Act Petitions
Sign an individual petition to demonstrate your approval of the The Property Tax Independence Act or distribute a multi-signature petition to really gather support! Print extra copies for your friends, family, and neighbors so they can help, too! Download the petitions as PDF files here.

Why school property taxes need to be eliminated!
Two excellent essays on the fallacy of property taxes for education funding.

 

PTCC Archive

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PTCC Update

13 November 2012

Friends,

A great deal has occurred with HB 1776 and SB 1400, the Property Tax Independence Act, during the past few months and we have made tremendous progress toward enactment. This Update will be a bit lengthy but VERY important, so please take the time to read it completely.

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THE PROPERTY TAX INDEPENDENCE ACT HEARINGS

On May 21 and again on June 4, the House Finance Committee held hearings on HB 1776. Testifying in favor of HB 1776 were the Pennsylvania State Grange, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations (the PTCC’s statewide parent group), and the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, that presented very positive results of surveys they’ve conducted regarding the favorability of the legislation.

The special interests were at the hearings in full force to protect the status quo and their own self-interest. Among those testifying against HB 1776 were the PA Bar Association, The PA Retailers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the PA Newspaper Association, the PA School Boards Association, and the PA Institute of CPAs, a group that is so concerned with not charging sales tax to their clients that they initiated a disinformation campaign against HB 1776 with letters to the editor in as many newspapers as would publish them.

These special interests couldn’t care less about the plight of Pennsylvania homeowners or the property tax crisis; their only concern is that the enactment of the Property Tax Independence Act will somehow affect their bottom line. Their greed and extreme self-interest was clearly evident during their testimony.

On June 11, in a disgraceful performance by a few members of the House Finance Committee, HB 1776 was tabled, a delaying tactic designed to kill or reduce the possibility of passage for HB 1776. However, the table motion was quickly reversed. During a hurriedly-called meeting on June 27 the Committee unanimously voted to remove the bill from the table and to advance it to the House Appropriations Committee for a fiscal analysis. This vote was driven by extreme pressure placed on the committee members by outraged homeowners who pummeled them with letters, emails and telephone calls. Our grassroots voice was clearly heard and made all the difference in keeping HB 1776 moving! The result of these votes, including the tally of individual members, and a press release about the table vote from Representative Jim Cox is available here. Please take the time to read this information to learn more about the opponents and supporters of HB 1776.

HB 1776 remains in the House Appropriations Committee until the analysis is completed. Although no more voting sessions are scheduled in the House, the analysis may be released before the end of the current legislative session.

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On July 26 the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on SB 1400, the Senate version of the Property Tax Independence Act.

The cast of testifying characters was basically the same as for the House Finance Committee hearings, with the special interests again attempting to poison the legislation. This time, though, they did not have it as easy as they did in the House Finance Committee, as many of the Senators hammered them about their self-serving testimony. As Senator Mike Folmer said to the testifiers from the Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association, “Let’s stop sacrificing principle on the altar of self-interest.”

My testimony at this hearing on behalf of the PCTA is available here. I strongly urge you to take the time to read this testimony because it describes the property tax crisis in detail, including its effect on homeowners, schoolchildren, jobs and Pennsylvania’s economic growth, and tells why the school property tax MUST be eliminated.

If you’d care to see the despicable special interests at their worst and the scathing responses from the Senators on the committee, a link to the video replay of the hearing (in two parts) is here.

The Senate Finance Committee did not vote on HB 1400 before the end of the legislative session.

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THE IFO REPORT

Earlier this year Senators Argall, Schwank, and Folmer requested that the newly-formed Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) conduct an analysis of HB 1776/SB 1400. The report was a well-researched, comprehensive document that accurately analyzes HB 1776/SB 1400; it was released on September 25. You can download it here. This is a fairly large file so it may take a moment to download.

In a nutshell, the analysis stated that the legislation falls short of fully replacing the school property tax by $1.509 billion. However, $314 million in sales tax on Telecommunications Services was inadvertently omitted from the legislation (Page 36). When this item is restored the shortfall is $1.168 billion. That amount will be covered in an amendment for an additional 0.33% increase in the state income tax, bringing the plan into exact balance.

The Property Tax Independence Act was originally crafted in good faith using the best estimates from the House Appropriations Committee and the Governor’s budget book; we knew the financials were fairly accurate but not necessarily exact. The IFO report was all that was needed to absolutely define the numbers and allow the sponsors to add amendments to be certain that schools would be fully funded. Please see the press release about this from prime sponsors Senators Argall and Folmer and Representative Cox here.

The IFO analysis projects that if the legislation is delayed and is not enacted until 2017 school property taxes will increase and it will take an additional half-billion dollars from the state level to make the plan viable. (Page 3) The report also projects that school property taxes will increase more than $4 billion from the current replacement level of $10.063 billion to $14.188 billion by 2017. This is another reason why it is urgent that the Property Tax Independence Act is enacted NOW.

Rather than doing the right thing by using the Independent Fiscal Office analysis of HB 1776/SB 1400 as a tool to adjust the legislation to ensure that it’s in balance, deceitful opponents of the legislation are using it as a weapon to trash the plan by saying that “the numbers don’t work.” Any politician who is using the IFO report as a weapon to discredit HB 1776/SB 1400 doesn’t want, for whatever reason, to see this legislation enacted and couldn’t care less about Pennsylvania taxpayers and homeowners. Such lawmakers need to be hammered by their constituents.

In addition to the numbers, the IFO analysis also reached a few conclusions:

The report projects that in year five after enactment HB 1776 will save $1.152 billion annually in the replacement revenue compared to the growth of property taxes if that system remained in place (Page 4, fourth line from the bottom). Property taxes historically rise at greater than three times the level of inflation (which, by the way, is unsustainable in the long term); HB 1776 limits the growth of the replacement funding to the rate of inflation.

The analysis states that disposable income of property taxpayers increases; spending that additional income generates more sales tax. (Pages 17-18) This is a winning situation for both taxpayers and schools.

The analysis indicates that HB 1776 will cause home values to increase, on average, by more than 10% statewide, restoring a big chunk of the equity that was lost to homeowners during the 2008 housing downturn. (Page 23)

Considering all of this, what further evidence is needed to convince the lawmakers to enact this vital legislation?

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A FEW QUICK NOTES

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations (PCTA) is now 76 member groups from across the state. This growth is clear evidence of the continued and expanding support of the Property Tax Independence Act.

What differentiates the Property Tax Independence Act from other property tax plans is that it is OUR legislation. Throughout the development of the bill, the author of the legislation conferred extensively with his colleagues so he could incorporate their input. But equally important is the grassroots taxpayer groups’ continuing involvement. From the earliest discussions of this legislation in November 2010, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations has been a full partner in the drafting of the Property Tax Independence Act. This legislation is truly a collaborative effort between lawmakers and the taxpayers who support it and, because of this collaboration, has gained widespread acceptance by residents from across the Commonwealth.

That acceptance was vividly demonstrated on May 7 when almost one thousand supporters declared their independence from school property taxes in a Capitol Rotunda rally. A recap and photos of the event are here.

And on September 25, hundreds of grassroots supporters from across Pennsylvania converged on Harrisburg for the Fill-A-Bus-Tour to protest property taxes and to show support for the Property Tax Independence Act. For more than four hours these dedicated activists roamed the Capitol halls and visited lawmakers in their offices to tell them in no uncertain terms that they want school property tax elimination NOW. One Capitol staff member was heard to say, “These property tax people are everywhere. They’re like cockroaches.” What a great compliment and tribute to grassroots activism! The homeowners of Pennsylvania were out in full force and were definitely noticed by the Harrisburg politicians. Congratulations and thank you to all who participated in this outstanding event.

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THE BOTTOM LINE

Representative Jim Cox, House prime sponsor of the Property Tax Independence Act, was re-elected on November 6. Senator David Argall, the prime sponsor in the Senate, also won his re-election bid. With these two Property Tax Independence Act champions returning to office along with our many other key legislative supporters we'll definitely have an introduction of the legislation in both chambers in January.

We are well-positioned for January with the introduction of the legislation in both the House and Senate and have built tremendous momentum to move us forward. The Independent Fiscal Office study of HB 1776/SB 1400 gave us definitive numbers with which to work; the bill’s revenue sources will be adjusted accordingly and the legislation will be financially dead-on at introduction, ending the vague, deceptive arguments from opponents that “the numbers don’t work.”

Even better is the interest in the issue that has developed in the Senate. Since 2004 the Senate has always stayed on the sidelines in the property tax fight but in the past year many members from both parties have shown a strong interest in getting this problem solved. Having both chambers and bipartisan support in the fight greatly increases our odds of winning.

2013 is shaping up to be a terrific year for the property tax movement. We WILL get this done! But, as usual, we’ll need your help.

This is and always has been a grassroots movement that pits the taxpayers against the special interests. We have the momentum and many factors in our favor right now; as long as we're able to keep adding new supporters to increase the pressure on Harrisburg I honestly believe that we have a very good chance of accomplishing this during the new session that begins in January. The single most important thing that everyone needs to do is to spread the word about HB 1776/SB 1400 to continue to build our base of support. Tell everyone you know and ask them to get them on board by sending them to the PTCC website to learn about the plan.

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ONE FINAL ITEM

The PTCC has a very active Facebook discussion group with more than one thousand members that is constantly buzzing with comments, news and suggestions about how you can help in the property tax fight. If you’re a Facebook subscriber, please become a member of the group to join the conversation and to keep abreast of the latest information. The PTCC Facebook page is here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/pataxpayers. If you’re not a Facebook subscriber, please consider joining anyway to participate in the PTCC discussions.

The Property Tax Independence Act also has its own Facebook page where the latest news is posted. You can “like” this page here: http://www.facebook.com/NoPropertyTax.

That’s it for now but there’ll be more in the near future. In the meantime, keep up the good work and continue to be a recruiter for the Property Tax Independence Act. We’ve proven that the lawmakers are listening and that we can make a difference. With your continuing help we can make the Property Tax Independence Act a reality for the homeowners and schoolchildren of Pennsylvania.

David Baldinger
PTCC Administrator

 

Join the effort and stay informed on how you can help! Subscribe to the free PTCC email updates here. (pataxpayers@gmail.com)