Despite Constitutional Amendment Vote, Property Taxes Likely to Remain

Despite 54% of people voting in favor of a Constitutional Amendment allowing for local taxing authorities to exempt homeowners from paying property tax on their primary residence, the likelihood of that actually happening remains small.

According to the Inquirer, history is not on the side of property taxes being removed even with the amendment.  

“The reason that no one has gone whole hog to get rid of the tax is that we need the things the tax pays for,”  University of California San Diego sociology professor Isaac Martin told the Inquirer.  

The amendment itself does not actually change any taxes for homeowners immediately, it instead opens the door for the system to be changed or completely thrown out.  

In other states that have seen the people push for property tax elimination, the push either failed completely or saw property taxes limited.  

From the Inquirer:

North Dakota voters rejected a 2012 ballot measure that would have outlawed them. California lawmakers dealt with the issue with a 1978 law — the so-called Proposition 13 “mad as hell” tax revolt —  that restricted increases in property assessments. Since California adopted those limits, several other states have followed with similar mixtures of limitations to protect homeowners. 

When it comes to specifically Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University professor of economic and public policy Robert Strauss says that there are too many other issues for it to become a reality.  

“The real world of state and local government is filled with a lot of problems and issues. The initiative, in my judgement, went to the wrong goal line. It was kind of wishful thinking,” Strauss said.

15 Responses

  1. This could easily result in property tax relief getting shifted to owners of more expensive properties over property owners in greater need, especially if the General Assembly doesn’t find new revenue (i.e. a massive tax increase) to pay for relief. They have opened a door to potentially awful legislation, and I am not sure that I trust them to figure this one out.

  2. Former Senator Rick Santorum might not have much credibility on property taxes/school taxes when he kind of stiffed Penn Hills taxpayers for his kids’ education while they all lived in Virginia, right? None of them was living in that little house in Penn Hills.

  3. Perhaps “scot-free” was a poor word choice on my part.
    Most homeowners dutifully pay property tax year after year without complaint — yet my point is the sum of $4500.00 yearly tax for 30 or 40 years is far more of an individualized penalty for a homeowner for the funding of Pennsylvania public schools. And there is no relief from it.
    A homeowner also pays a mortgage from month of purchase until it is done 15 or 30 years later, on top of the school tax. So it’s really not like renting. It’s the mortgage due monthly plus interest plus the annual taxes that you must pay, and timely–or be penalized financially.
    And most homeowners still pay that property tax as old people and the amount is even higher by then. There should be an end to it at some point. That’s my reasoning.
    Homeowners clearly bear the burden of property taxes. It’s kind of a walk in someone else’s shoes argument. The rental comparison isn’t all that convincing. The numbers don’t add up.

  4. The one statement that I see over and over is that the greedy landlords will never lower their rents.
    If landlords don’t have to pay property taxes any more the first people to know that will be the HUD/government and how fast do you think the HUD assistance checks will be cut back to compensate for them knowing that the greedy landlords don’t have that expense anymore?
    The first, I would bet almost immediate thing that will happen is the HUD checks will be cut/lowered to offset for the amount not needed to pay for those taxes, that will lower the base rent for all government assisted housing and through competition force the private landlord to lower their rental rates also.
    An example my property tax costs for just the school district taxes which are the only property tax that we are talking of eliminating here in PA, not local or county, adds just over $200.00/month/apartment to the rental charge on one of my two units. Cutting $200/month on apartment rents would make apartments a lot more affordable for all tenants.
    As a landlord for over thirty years I have seen the section 8 or HUD assistance rent rebate climb to the point where the average working wage earner would have a hard time affording the same rental rate for the same apartment unit the HUD/government pays out without spending 30,40 maybe 50% of their take home earnings/pay.
    These same HUD subsidized people that get the housing assistance usually also get other subsidies; food, heat, clothing, medical/health, schooling for themselves and child care expenses, they even sometimes get down payment/security deposit subsidies. These government subsidized people know exactly how much they can earn before these many combined subsidies may be taken away, thus when they earn more money/hr. they typically just work less hr. so that that government earnings threshold never gets crossed assuring none of their government subsidies get taken away.
    The government subsidy cut will force landlords to compete and thus they will also have to lower their rental rate. So through competition rental rates will come down.

  5. PA Senate Bill 76 will protect homeowners on fixed incomes and fairly tax consumers in a responsible way. Throughout the Commonwealth, rising school property taxes have made it difficult for homeowners on limited incomes to pay their taxes. By eliminating property taxes and replacing funding with personal income and sales taxes, the burden of unreasonably high property taxes would be lifted from homeowners and fairly spread among those who consume and earn the most. Senate Bill 76 offers a fiscally responsible plan for property tax relief.

      1. I’m guessing the fact that it relies on magical math and no one wants to see a massive, regressive increase in the PIT and Sales Tax to pay for it.

  6. Honestly, I don’t trust the Bozo’s in Harrisburg with this issue. They will somehow screw the local governments and take control over how funding is distributed and then not provide adequate funding.

  7. At least legislators could give Pennsylvania’s seniors and those even older a break if they’ve been paying property taxes on the same home for 25 or 30 years.
    Renters get off scot-free.

    Sometimes taxes in fairly nice localities, yet not utterly opulent, are $4000 to $5000 per year, which can be a lot for retirees or the disabled or the increasingly less healthy living on a set income.

    It’s a rather predatory system for tax collection.
    And also awful that PA. politicians disregard voters’input on the issue.
    It was worded in a jumbled manner on the ballot, almost as if meant to confuse. A few people were saying they had to read it more than once.

      1. I hate to agree with anyone called Rick Santorum, but he is right. Property tax is built into rent, and I guarantee the rent won’t go down if the tax goes away. I am a senior, however I see no reason for young growing families to subsidize the seniors home investment.

  8. WOW, some of our State politicians have built a whole career on repeal and have been stringing along the electorate year after year after year.But, there are things they could do right now and years ago to alleviate property taxes for schools and they don’t do that either. Always blaming a lack of movement on the School Board Association and the teacher unions. Blaming the latter entity was a joke, how many in the majority listen to unions let alone teachers unions? But how many listen to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Commerce?

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