The State College Area school directors intend to enact a 5.7 percent real estate tax increase but not for all property owners.
The school district has yet to provide any legal justification to levy real estate taxes in a nonuniform discriminatory manner.
Pennsylvania’s Constitution requires: “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.”
But limited constitutional exceptions were identified and scheduled effective July 1, 1970, with the further mandate: “All laws exempting property from taxation, other than the property above enumerated, shall be void.” (Article VIII Section 5)
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The General Assembly, in its Statutory Construction Act of 1972, wrote: All laws exempting persons and property from taxation shall be “strictly construed.” [(Act. 290 (1972) B, Sec. 1928 (b) (5)]
“Strictly construed” are clear and unambiguous words. The General Assembly then explained: “When the words of a statute are free and clear of all ambiguity the letter of it is not to be disregarded under the pretext of pursuing its spirit.” [(Ibid, section 1921(b)]
The power to exempt from real estate taxation is the power to render such tax nonuniform. The school directors hold no such legal authority. Any attempt to use lottery and slots revenue law to justify pursuing the spirit of tax exemption or relief for select property owners is wrong.
Citing any law or court decision outside the identified exceptions violates the Constitution of Pennsylvania.