There is a renewed effort at the state capitol to eliminate school property taxes. But, if passed, Pennsylvanians would have to pay more in other areas.
Senate Bill 76 would get rid of school property taxes in Pennsylvania. The bill’s main sponsor, Senator Dave Argall, calls the taxes outdated and says paying them is hurting some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Argall says, “Seniors on fixed incomes are the ones that are hurt the most.”
School districts are estimated to collect $14 billion in property taxes this school year. If those taxes are eliminated, the money will have to be made up elsewhere. Argall says, “More sales tax. More income tax. We believe that’s the only way fairly to eliminate the school property tax.”
The bill would raise the personal income tax from 3% to 5% and sales tax from 6% to 7%. It would also impose a sales tax on currently exempt items, like some food and clothes.
Peter Schweyer says, “Those taxes will absolutely hurt the average Pennsylvanian.” The Democratic Representative says he’s open to providing tax relief to seniors, but against this bill. “It’s being sold as property tax relief for your everyday citizen, but it is nothing more than a massive corporate tax giveaway in Pennsylvania.”
But, Senator Argall argues that’s not the case, pointing to a constitutional amendment voted on in November, which gives them the option to only do property tax elimination for homeowners. It’s one of several possible amendments he’s looking at in order to get the bill passed. “The time is right to move this issue ahead. And again, find a better way to fund the public schools than this relic from the 16 and 1700s.” Argall says he’s looking at a number of amendments to the bill to help turn some previous ‘no’ votes into ‘yes’.
The bill was defeated in 2015 due to a tie-breaking vote by the Lieutenant Governor.
–Matt Heckel, Jet 24 Action News