State’s Voters OK Property Tax Amendment Change

| November 8, 2017

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) — Pennsylvania voters approved a constitutional amendment in Tuesday’s general election that could lead to a potential property tax overhaul.

While it’s not likely to have a practical impact in the near future on property owners, it’s a step toward changing or eliminating a tax that has been a long-standing source of complaint.

Lawmakers and advocates say that the current reliance on property taxes — which account for about 30 percent of local and state revenue in Pennsylvania and are a primary source of school funding — is especially harmful to homeowners on fixed incomes.

The issue has gained greater traction in recent years and Gov. Wolf has said he supports eliminating property taxes.

The ballot question asked whether taxing authorities should be able to exempt residents from paying property taxes on their primary residences.

The referendum allows the legislature to pass a law that would permit taxing authorities to exempt residents from paying any tax on their primary residences.

Even if the legislature passes such a bill, individual taxing authorities — counties, municipalities, and school districts — would have to enact their own exemptions.

The exemptions would apply only to primary residences; taxes would have to be paid on commercial and industrial properties and on second homes.

Taxing authorities would have to find replacement revenue sources, which likely would require more state legislation.

Some grassroots groups of Pennsylvania homeowners have pushed for a bill known as the Property Tax Independence Act, which would eliminate property taxes by raising sales and income taxes.

School districts have been watching the issue closely.

The state Association of School Business Officials believes having an option to eliminate property taxes for primary residences is a good idea, provided replacement revenue is available.

It does oppose the Property Tax Independence Act and other efforts to eliminate all school property taxes.

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Category: Local News, News, State News