Pennsylvania State Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks/Lancaster) has introduced the Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 76) in the Pennsylvania state House. The legislation proposes to eliminate school district property taxes by funding education in Pennsylvania with statewide revenue sources. It would increase the state Personal Income Tax from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent. It also would increase the state Sales and Use Tax (SUT) from 6 percent to 7 percent. Additional revenue would be generated by expanding the sales tax to dozens of items currently exempt.
According to a press release, Cox recognizes the bill is unlikely to be considered in the state House before the two-year session ends in November. He says he is introducing it now at the request of taxpayer groups and his colleagues to tee the issue up for next session.
As you may recall, a similar proposal was narrowly defeated in the state Senate in November 2015 by one vote.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf campaigned on shifting public school funding away from homeowners and proposed a similar property tax relief plan during his 2015-16 budget address. The plan was criticized for not providing dollar for dollar reductions in school property taxes. Facing reelection in 2018, we expect the governor to make another push next year.