Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Schemes to ‘reform’ property taxes

Beware vague


Ira Weiss’ warning (“Pennsylvan­ia’s Empty Promise on Property Tax Reform,” April 13 Perspectiv­es) about the so-called property tax reform being discussed in Harrisburg is a chilling reminder that the taxman is coming after all Pennsylvan­ia citizens with promised reforms that end up costing us more in taxes. We’re being asked to trade the devil we know for the devil we don’t know.

Any property tax reform scheme that doesn’t eliminate all property taxes will produce winners and losers. The biggest winners? The people who collect the taxes and large commercial property owners.

Let’s look at the numbers: The Pittsburgh Public Schools collects only 47 percent of the total property taxes in the city. State lawmakers want city property owners to continue to pay more than half of their present taxes before the “tax reform” kicks in.

The Rivers Casino pays the school district almost $2.4 million in taxes. If those taxes aren’t paid, who picks up the tab? You guessed it. We all do by paying additional sales taxes and earned income taxes.

While the real estate tax is despised, it is also the most transparen­t with the right to appeal an assessment to lower the tax bill. It’s easy to calculate your property tax bill, but can you honestly say that you know what you paid in sales taxes last year?

Beware of any plan that does not eliminate the entire, flawed property tax system. If state lawmakers really wanted to reform the way we pay property taxes, they should enact assessment­s reforms that ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share in taxes. Uniformity in taxation is guaranteed in our state constituti­on, but that right is only available to those who go to court to enforce it.

Thank you, Ira Weiss, for reminding us of another Harrisburg Trojan horse taxhike scheme that keeps property taxes, sales taxes and state income taxes in an unholy mix. The devil is in the details. MIKE SULEY Scott

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