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Lawmakers seek tax shift for replacing school district property taxes

By - Last modified: March 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM

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Lawmakers in the state House and Senate said Tuesday they were introducing bills to enable replacing school district property taxes through a combination of sales and income tax increases, closing loopholes and using existing gaming money.

House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76 as outlined would raise the statewide sales tax to 7 percent from 6 percent and take the personal income tax rate to 4.34 percent from 3.07 percent.

Sponsors are state Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks County, and state Sen. David G. Argall, R-Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Schuylkill counties, and the plan is referred to as the Property Tax Independence Act.

In combination with some existing gaming revenue and closing "special interest loopholes" for the sales and use tax, it would be enough to do away with school district property taxes, according to a news release.

The loopholes or exemptions the act would close include purchases for textbooks, legal services with some exemptions and charges for spectator sports admissions with an exception for schools, according to a summary document.

In addition, the sales tax would be expanded to apply to food that is not on the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program food list, clothing and footwear that costs $50 or more and nonprescription drugs, according to the summary.

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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