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January 9, 2015

LTE: There’s a Good Reason for Property Tax

A letter to the editor printed in the November 7, 2014 Reading Eagle from LAMPa Policy Council member from the the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, in opposition to SB 76, which would have eliminated property taxes in the Commonwealth.

Editor:

As a former member of a school board, I am aware that there are many who believe that the school property tax needs to be eliminated. They should be careful of what they wish for.

The Property Tax Independence Act would have eliminated the property tax, including those paid by businesses and corporations. It would have increased sales tax to 7 percent and expanded its application to many items and services that presently are not taxed. And it would have increased the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.

By doing these things, the bill would have ended a school board’s ability to effectively manage and financ its educational program. It also would have jeopardized the quality of public educaiton by placing its financial well-being upon more mercurial sources of funding, such as the sales and income taxes that rise and fall with the health of the state’s economy.

It would have shifted businesses’ and corporations’ shares of funding school budgets to consumers, individuals and small businesses with higher sales and personal income taxes. And it would have negatively impacted the poor and the elderly who are not homeowners and are already struggling to make ends meet.

There was a good reason that our ancestors chose the property tax to fund public education and other aspects of our common life. It was a stable source of revenue and in many ways a progressive tax with its weight falling more heavily upon those who hold more land or choose to live in larger, more luxurious houses. We fail to heed their good judgment at the peril of our children.

Dennis Ritter

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