Property tax question on PA ballot

Elections outside of the major political arena (president, senator, governor) usually draw reduced interest. You could call the voting on Tuesday, Nov. 7 the judge election. Most of the races on the ballot involve decisions for PA Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts.

Contrary to popular belief, they are very important decisions.

But there is also a Yes/No question on the ballot that should attract a great deal of interest. Every Pennsylvanian will see this proposal on the ballot:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all assessed property, which is the existing law?

There is a mistaken belief that this question is proposal to eliminate property taxes. That is not the case at all. Approval of this question would allow the General Assembly to consider voting on a bill raising the homestead exemption which could, theoretically, eliminate property taxes.

First of all, school districts are not likely to end collecting property taxes. Any effort to reduce property taxes would be met with raising the state’s personal income tax and the sales tax. The Commonwealth, struggling to pass a budget now, would need to recoup the lost revenue somehow to support the public school system. There is no free ride. A Yes vote will be the first step toward possibly ending property taxes, and creating either new taxes in other areas, or increasing current sales and personal income levies.

It is a good idea to do some research on this question and then make it a point to vote Tuesday. You won’t be choosing a president or a governor but, for your finances, it may be an even more important decision.

 

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