Taxpayer groups from across Pennsylvania are rallying behind the latest attempt to abolish burdensome school property taxes. The newly-introduced Property Tax Independence Act would replace homeowners’ most dreaded bill with a one percentage point increase in the state sales tax, a broadening of the sales tax base, and a hike of the personal income tax from 3.07 – 4%.
It’s a dollar-for-dollar tax shift, and the bill’s author says the number of losers is extremely small. “What this does is shift the [school funding] burden off the backs of six million property owners, up to the shoulders of 12-million sales tax payers,” state Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) tells Radio PA. “Everyone pays the sales tax. How much is largely up to them, but everybody pays the sales tax.”
One difference between HB 1776 and previous attempts to thwart the local property tax is the unprecedented level of input it received from Pennsylvania taxpayers. In fact, the Property Tax Independence Act has the backing of 72-taxpayer groups.
“This is about all homeowners who are suffering under the burden of school property taxes,” says Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations spokesman David Baldinger. “In some areas of the state, the monthly property tax escrow can be equal to the mortgage itself.”
Baldinger is among the testifiers scheduled to address the state House Finance Committee on Monday morning. While enactment of such a dramatic change would be nothing short of monumental, Rep. Cox believes he already has enough votes to advance the bill out of committee and to the House floor.
HB 1776 has 70-cosponsors, 50-Republicans and 20-Democrats. There’s also a companion bill in the Senate.