The May payment period for municipal property tax payments is here again, and hopefully you already paid in April to get the discounted amount.
And a sure as tax season is another effort to move property tax elimination into the spotlight in Harrisburg. This year it’s Senate Bill 76, which proposes to raise the Pennsylvania personal income tax to 4.34 percent from 3.07 percent currently. Also the bill would increase the sales tax to 7% to cover the removal of property tax revenue.
As usual, the sides are squaring off on the issue. The PA chamber lauded the goal of SB 76 but feels that it would place an unusual burden on small businesses. Advocacy groups such as the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations are taking the side of property owners who they claim have seen property taxes climb at a much faster rate than incomes.
I tend to view property taxes as a fundamentally flawed method of collecting revenue; I’ve seen people forced into a tax sale over relatively small amounts owed. I am also a proponent of use taxes rather than ownership taxes – this provides the choice mechanism I think is critical. I don’t like the idea of a higher income tax, but in the end I suspect it would be better than an ownership tax that clearly favors a certain segment of the population in a municipality or district.
Where this particular legislative effort will lead is anyone’s guess, though proponents of the bill claim to have enough votes this year. Either way, you better plan for a multi-thousand-dollar school district bill in the fall.