19 February 2007
With the new session of the Pennsylvania Legislature now in session, things are again heating up over property tax reform.
The goals of the PTCC and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations (PCTA) remain the same: Defeat the property tax shift referendum on the May primary ballot, repeal Act 1, and have the General Assembly enact legislation for school property tax ELIMINATION.
Newspapers across Pennsylvania are continuing to take an editorial stance on this issue, and a VERY good one was published in the February 18 edition of the Pottstown Mercury – which leads to this…
** ACTION ITEM **
Please read the editorial below; the action item is self-explanatory. Please help this effort by responding to the Mercury’s request and, if possible, have your friends, neighbors, and relatives do so as well. If you wish, you can send a letter from each member of your household. Let’s inundate the Legislature with letters to let them know that Act 1 is UNACCEPTABLE!
If you have comments or questions, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Reprinted with permission of the Pottstown Mercury)
Join us in demanding legislators take another look at school tax reform
First there was Act 72, and now there is Act 1, the tax reform scams of 2005 and 2006.
As area school districts are now preparing their ballot referendums to comply with Act 1, the discontent with this 2006 attempt at tax reform is becoming more evident.
The law does nothing to reform school funding in Pennsylvania and serves only to take taxes out of one pocket instead of the other without providing meaningful relief for the working homeowner.
The law has three main parts. It attempts to limit future tax increases by subjecting districts to a referendum on any tax increase above the inflation index and on building projects. It distributes money earned from slot parlors to schools for property tax reduction, and it forces districts to offer a tax-shifting referendum on May 15.
But the measure fails on all three fronts.
The legislature has in its power many ways to limit school spending or to help districts control spending through prevailing wage exemptions and consolidated purchasing power. But a school district exploding with growth cannot stop building schools or paying for additional teachers.
Giving voters a false sense of control of spending is irresponsible legislation.
The distribution of money from slots is a promise yet to be realized. And it also depends on people losing money in order for a tax break.
The tax-shifting referendum is the biggest scam of all.
Districts are able to word their own ballot question, basing it on whether they want to propose an increase in personal income tax or earned income tax. They must also determine the amount of the increase, ranging from .5 percent to 2.5 percent, for the ballot question.
Citizens’ tax study commissions -- also a requirement of Act 1 -- have been making recommendations to all school boards in recent weeks and their reports reveal the problems with the law.
For example, in the Owen J. Roberts School District, the commission recommended a 1 percent earned income tax increase. That increase would enable the district to give a property tax reduction to all homeowners totaling $500 the first year and $700 in all future years.
But the $700 trimmed off property taxes won’t really result in a tax savings for all taxpayers. The amount saved depends on income because higher earners will pay more in earned income tax than they will save in property tax.
Homeowners with a combined income of $29,000 would see a net reduction in their taxes of $415. Those earning $76,000 would only realize a $58 savings. Households with a combined income of $158,000 would actually experience an $872 increase in school taxes.
Families with two wage-earners would be hit harder, and renters would pay more in taxes with no chance of seeing relief.
The failures of this "reform" legislation are becoming evident throughout Pennsylvania. In the Norristown Area School District, a working middle-class couple who own a home could end up paying $900 per year in additional taxes to get $350 knocked off their property tax bill.
If that’s not a scam, we don’t know what it is.
As with the pay-raise debacle in 2005, newspapers are taking the public’s frustration with Act 1 to Harrisburg with a demand that legislators get back to work on a true solution to the problem of relying on local property taxes to fund public schools.
We ask you to join us in asking Gov. Ed Rendell and our state legislators to take a hard look at school funding and craft a plan that truly reforms the system of taxation and takes the burden off local school districts and the working-class homeowner.
They tried last year with a months-long special session on tax reform, and the result was Act 1. Clearly, the effort failed, and lawmakers need to try again.
If you’re opposed to Act 1, please write to: Operation Tax Scam, The Mercury, 24 N. Hanover St., Pottstown, PA 19464. We will collect letters sent to us as part of a campaign shared with The Times-Herald newspaper and will forward them to legislators.
(Note: You might prefer to e-mail your letter to email@example.com. – DB)
©The Mercury 2007