Pennsylvania already provides $200 to $650 property tax rebates for homeowners and renters. Taxpayers over age 65 (age 50 with certain exceptions) and household income less than $35,000 ($15,000 for renters) qualify. (Half of Social Security payments — about $13,000) are omitted from income determination.
The State College Area School District now proposes another $200 to $650 property tax rebate for homestead/farmstead property owners modeled on criteria for a similar state rebate program. Renters are excluded.
The district’s program requires “volunteer” menial labor at the rate of $5 per hour to “earn” the rebate. About 15 (among 500) districts have a similar program; only two require servitude.
The intent is to help a special class of seniors cope with the onerous SCASD property tax.
Here is the problem: As much as that senior tax class needs the rebate, so do many others regardless of age but earning modest incomes surrounded by affluence.
The administration says it “found” $300,000 in the budget to fund the program by “moving things around.” I can find another $100,000 by using a retiree instead of a press secretary to write the district’s news releases.
Then add the unbudgeted $826,000 anticipated payment from the state’s share for local education. “Move more things around” and reduce taxes for all.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan persuasively agrees — the Pennsylvania school property tax system is the worst in the nation with respect to equal funding for all students. It is also among the most regressive and confiscatory.