On Tuesday, we vote on a ballot question to change the Pennsylvania Constitution, the purpose being to permit the elimination of property taxes.
Initially, it sounds good. The problem is that it’s a massive tax cut for the rich, and a mass transfer of income to the wealthiest Pennsylvania homeowners, who will get the lion’s share of the benefits. Here’s how: Mr. Big Mansion now pays $30,000 a year in property taxes. Mr. Little Ranch now pays $1,500. Under the amendment, Mr. Big Mansion receives a windfall of $30,000 every year, while Mr. Little Ranch receives only $1,500. Hardly a fair tax system!
In 2012, North Dakota considered a similar measure and rejected it, recognizing that ending property taxes would mean a windfall for the wealthy, chaos in the state capital, increases in other taxes, and could also end decision-making by local councils/boards.
The money to replace lost property tax revenue would have to come from somewhere. Where? New taxes, like personal property taxes, tax on food and clothing? Increase state income and sales tax? Do we trust our state government to do this right? Right now, the deficit is $2.2 billion and Pennsylvania is still without a complete budget.
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In North Dakota, instead of eliminating property taxes, taxes on people over 65, those permanently disabled, disabled veterans and those whose income is $42,000 or less per year were reduced.
We need a fair system. Vote “no” on this proposal on Tuesday.
Linda MacMonagle, Fairview