Could school property tax be a thing of the past in Pennsylvania?

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Some legislators are working on a bill to make school property tax a thing of the past in Pennsylvania, and lawmakers have a plan to come up with the money.

If House Bill 13 passes, Pennsylvania's $15 billion dollar state property tax would be a thing of the past. The bill's prime sponsor is State Representative Frank Ryan of Lebanon County.

"The purpose of this bill is to put all of us on an equal playing field," Ryan said. It's a variable expense, for a variable bill, so that you don't lose your home because of this."

So where would that $15 billion come from? Lawmakers plan to come up with the money by increasing sales tax 2% (taking it from 6% to 8%), increasing local personal income tax 1.85%, and putting a 5% tax on your retirement money, excluding social security.

It's an idea Jack Koller of Dallastown, York County can get on board with.

"I'd be in favor of increasing sales tax a little bit to offset the school tax," Koller said. "My wife and I built a house outside of Loganville in 1976 and the school tax I'm pretty sure it was less than $1,000. But today it's almost $4,500. It takes a big chunk out of your savings."

Some lawmakers have been trying to get similar bills to pass over the last twenty years, but with other exclusions. Ryan said if this one passes, it'll be the first time it's ever been done in the nation.

"Last year 18 thousand Pennsylvanians lost their home because they couldn't afford to pay their property taxes," Ryan said. "It's a huge issue. This is huge. And the bill that we've crafted - we protect seniors, we protect renters, under our bill when property taxes go down renters see a reduction in their rent payment as well."

But renter Chivonne Moore of York doesn't see that happening.

"I really doubt that that would happen because they're going to be paying more in all their other taxes," Moore said. "So, why would they start charging you less? Most people that don't own properties have less money. I'm going to have to pay more money that I don't even have right now."

Ryan plans to introduce the bill August 15th. They are sending it out for comments now. He said he's confident the bill will pass, because he's met with every lawmaker whose opposed similar bills, in order to craft this one.

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