After years of property owners’ complaints, 2018 might be the year that Pennsylvania dramatically changes its real-estate tax system — if a few state senators have their way. A decade-long effort to eliminate or reduce property taxes has gained new momentum, after a constitutional amendment passed in November that allows the state to exempt owner-occupied homes from real estate levies.
Now, the legislature could use that exemption to eliminate school property taxes. A group of senators is working to find a bill that has a chance at succeeding, said state Sen. David Argall. Argall said he’s polling senators on four options: One would exempt homeowners from paying taxes on their primary residences and would raise the state income tax to fund school districts; two also would exempt only primary residences, but would make up the difference through combinations of sales and income tax increases; and the Property Tax Independence Act (SB 76) would eliminate school taxes on all properties by raising sales and income taxes.
If they eliminate school taxes only for owner-occupied homes, legislators would still have to come up with more than $7 billion in replacement revenue, according to a report from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office.
A spokesperson for Gov. Wolf, J.J. Abbott, said that the governor would review any proposal when formally introduced, and noted that Wolf has long supported property tax relief and has also made school funding “his top priority.”
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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 1/23/2018