A guest column today from Bob Logue of S.T.O.P. (Stop Taxing Our Properties) about the ongoing effort by politicians to avoid reforming Pennsylvania's property tax:
Did you get your 6% raise in your income yet?
According the Rep. John Perzel, former House Speaker, property taxes in Pennsylvania are currently rising an average of 6 percent a year. At that rate in five years .... your taxes on your home will increase nearly one third. If you're paying $1,500 total property taxes now...in five years it could be $2,000. In 10 years it would go up 60 percent. How many of you have seen your income rise by 60 percent over the past 10 years?
Perzel wants to take all of the revenue generated by the slot machines...which was promised to all homestead property owners …. and give 100 percent of it to seniors over 65 whose household income in less than $40,000 per year. Their school taxes would be abolished ... but not their county and municipal property taxes that could continue to rise.
Seniors over 65 with household incomes over $40,000 per year would get nothing. And all other homeowners under 65 years of age would get nothing. So much for the promises made when the slots legislation proposed and then enacted. Another example of legislators' inability to keep their promises.
Perzel has been in office for decades. Perzel has been one of the top OBSTRUCTIONISTS preventing consideration of the STOP Primary Residence Protection plan that would have abolished ALL property taxes on primary residences including school, county and municipal property taxes. Perzel refused to allow the STOP legislation even to be discussed in committee...and refused to allow our legislation to be considered on the House Floor during regular session.
During his many years there ... including his tenure in a leadership position ... he has not had the creativity, determination and wisdom to find a way to wean Pennsylvania away from the horridly inaccurate property tax system. During his decades in office (and this is also true of many of those incumbent legislators running for re-election in the April 22 primary) hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania homeowners of all ages have lost their homes to sheriff sale due to unpaid real estate (property) taxes. These home owners have not only lost their homes, had their lives and those of their families disrupted, but also lost most or all of the equity in their confiscated home ... far beyond their so called debt to society.
Pennsylvania property tax assessments are wrong ... horribly wrong ... and have been wrong for the entire time Perzel and the rest of the incumbents have been in office. Thirty years the legislature has fumbled with the property tax issue ... and still hasn't realized the only permanent, complete and sensible solution to this mess is total abolishment of all property taxes on primary residences.
Yes, it can be done while providing full replacement funding for our schools, county and municipal governments. That was proven in a study by the state's top fiscal experts ... the staff of the Legislative budget and finance committee.
Sadly, Perzel and the other state leaders on both sides of the aisle simply haven't the common sense, wisdom and guts to take the necessary steps toward abolishment.
You should ask your incumbent legislators why they are afraid to give you a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment that would abolish all property taxes on primary residences replacing it with a modest increase in the sales and income taxes.
Bob Logue is president of STOP (Stop Taxing Our Properties), a Pennsylvania-based citizens group that wants to see all property taxes eliminated. For more information, check out the group's Web site at www.grandoldusa.com. You can e-mail Logue at firstname.lastname@example.org