Today, during the statewide municipal primary election, voters in almost all of Pennsylvania’s public school districts will vote on a ballot question required by Act 1, last year’s so-called “property tax reform” bill. The question asks voters whether they would support the imposition of an additional income tax (in some districts the decision involves personal income tax, while in others the choice involves earned income taxes) in order to fund exemptions, or rebates, on property taxes.
The debate has been framed in terms of the retired versus the wage earner, with the general argument being that retired folks on “fixed incomes” will benefit from the property tax relief without paying additional income taxes, and with the wage earners paying additional income taxes without receiving a corresponding amount of relief from property taxes.
I submit, however, that this is not as much of a tax-shift, at least in the long term, as Act 1’s supporters suggest. The statute does little to really provide real reform for property taxes. It is because of this that some districts have started to call for the repeal of Act 1 (see also this list of folks opposing Act 1).
Will the calls for Act 1’s repeal be effective? That, of course, remains to be seen. I predict that the statewide response to the various Act 1 ballot questions may have some impact on that.
Let’s wait and see. In the meantime, consider this as your reminder to take advantage of your opportunity to participate in the important work of local government by voting in today’s primary, to select the individuals who will serve in the important county, municipal and school offices.