Tuesday offers opportunity to vote ‘yes’ on vital property tax issue

Property taxes are consistently among the top issues residents of the 84th Legislative District reach out to me about. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters will have an opportunity to cast their vote for an important ballot question which will allow us to move toward real property tax reform for homeowners. I encourage you to vote “yes.”

The Pennsylvania Constitution permits taxing authorities – counties, municipalities and school districts – to exclude up to 50 percent of the assessed value of an owner-occupied home, also known as a homestead, from a homeowner’s tax bill.

However, if the referendum on the ballot passes, the maximum exclusion taxing authorities can grant will be increased to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property. To say it another way, if approved, this would allow local taxing authorities to offer not only a reduction in a homeowner’s property tax, but to actually eliminate local property taxes on homesteads.

Pennsylvania’s property tax system is outdated. It dates to medieval times when land ownership equated to personal wealth. We all know that is no longer necessarily the case. However, this archaic system serves as the backbone of funding our local municipal and school district operations.

Property taxes have a crippling effect on our seniors and other homeowners who are trying to keep their homes in the face of ever-increasing taxes. Not only that, it hurts the potential for young people to buy a homes and begin to raise their families.

As someone who has advocated for property tax reform since I went to Harrisburg a decade ago, I am pleased to see this opportunity for the citizens of Pennsylvania to take a vote on this issue.

It is long past time we modernized and improved our system of taxation – this change to our state constitution will open the door to the changes we need to implement.

If voters approve this ballot question, the General Assembly will need to pass legislation that permits local governments to eliminate property taxes on homesteads. In addition, it will be up to state government, working in partnership with local taxing authorities, to determine how best to fund the increased homestead exemption and to provide for other funding mechanisms to replace property taxes.

While all agree that this referendum is not the entire solution to property taxes, I believe that it is a large and necessary step forward in the process to provide meaningful property tax relief for Pennsylvania homeowners. It is for that reason that I ask you to vote in support of this ballot question on Tuesday.

Everett, a Muncy Republican, represents Lycoming and Unioncounties of the 84th Legislative District