Do you want to reduce your property taxes?
Vote “Yes!” on Nov. 7 on a proposed Constitutional amend....
Do you want to increase your property taxes?
If not, vote “No!” on Nov. 7 on a proposed Constitutional amendment. Psst: Nov. 7 is slightly more than a week away.
Somebody in Harrisburg can’t write a clear amendment.
The amendment would permit the Legislature to change the way property taxes are levied. Right now, if my house is taxed at $100, your house next door must also be taxed at $100 (all other things being equal), even if my house is a single-family residence and your house has been converted into, say, a doctor’s office.
If the amendment passes, the Legislature could eliminate all property taxes on homes and farms, but keep property taxes on businesses.
That sounds enticing – except to business owners.
The Legislature could end all property taxes on businesses, but keep those taxes on homes and farms, increasing the dollar amounts to make up for the free ride given to businesses.
When the Constitution was written, its framers did not trust the political hacks .... Oops! ... incorruptible public servants who often run the Legislature. So they said that property taxes must be uniform across all classes of property, no exceptions.
By and large, that situation still exists.
So what should voters do on Nov. 7?
If a Constitutional amendment is unclear, it is a bad amendment. Unclear laws allow rich people who can afford high-powered lawyers to get out from under taxes that us ordinary folk are forced to pay, whether we can afford them or not.
Yes, the school property tax in Pennsylvania is unfair. Yes, the law should be changed — but not this way. What we should have done a half-century ago is keep the property tax only for local and county governments, and pay for schools with taxes on income and sales.
This newest proposal is “clearly wrongheaded,” said Donna Cooper, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “We should be looking to reduce property taxes for those who are most stressed and increase the state share of funding for our schools so that we decrease the pressure on homeowners.”
This amendment might make that possible.
Or it might make matters worse.
Vote “No!” and tell legislators to rewrite this mess into a clear, consistent proposal.
— Denny Bonavita