Friday, May 30, 2008

Should mobile home owners pay property taxes?

Here's a twist in the ongoing effort to abolish property taxes. And if it succeeds, we may end up with most Pennsylvanians moving to trailer parks.

Two Montgomery County lawmakers have introduced a bill to exempt people who live in mobile homes or trailer homes from paying the onerous property tax.

Most mobile homes are set on land the "homeowner" does not own, according to state Sens. John Rafferty, R-44th Dist., and Rob Wonderling, R-24th Dist. So why should these non-property owners pay property taxes, the lawmakers ask.

Senate Bill 1377 would eliminate two sections of The General County Assessment Law, excluding house trailers and mobile homes from the property tax.

Rafferty said he introduced this bill because he believes that forcing mobile home owners to pay property tax is unjust due to the fact that a mobile home is designed for transport and is titled by PennDOT like every other mobile vehicle.

"Some residents have come to me expressing their discontent that they have to pay property taxes on the assessed value of their mobile homes. I think this is unfair, because while these people may own the mobile home, they do not own the land that the mobile home sits on," Rafferty said in a press release.

Wonderling echoed Rafferty's sentiments on this legislation: "Often individuals living in mobile homes pay additional fees for the use of land where they place their vehicle. Requiring these people to pay property taxes for land they do not own is unfair, especially to those families living on fixed incomes."

The General County Assessment Law, passed in 1933 and amended in 2002, originally called for taxes on buildings permanently attached to land or connected with water, gas, electric or sewage facilities, Rafferty and Wonderling said.

A mobile home is a dwelling structure built on a steel chassis and fitted with wheels intended to be transported to a usually permanent location, the senators argue.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

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