The State College Area School board is poised to enact a real estate property tax with at least a 5.7 percent increase for next year.
School board President Amber Concepcion wrote that school directors had endorsed a program to provide property tax rebates to select homeowners and she cited a reference to an existing Pennsylvania Property Tax Rebate Program (CDT, March 28).
But a troubling additional supplemental real estate tax exemption program was revealed.
The cited Property Tax Rebate Program is funded and supported through the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming. Gambling is a voluntary action; it is not a tax levied by a school district or any other governmental authority levying a real estate property tax.
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Therefore, any eligibility criteria used by the Property Tax Rebate Program to provide tax help to select property owners is spurious and cannot form the excuse or basis to provide supplemental tax exemption.
Any policy adopted by the lottery program in no way mitigates the mandate of the Constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which requires that taxes shall be uniform upon the same class within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax; all laws exempting property, other than persons or property identified and enumerated in Article VIII, sections 1-5, shall be void.
When all is said and done the requirement of uniformity is still upon the school board. Proposed supplemental tax exemptions must be enacted by the General Assembly.
Yvonne Wright Hunter