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Legislation Could Eliminate School Property Tax

Tim Lambert

After a year of review, Pennsylvania House Representative Jim Cox reintroduced House Bill 76 outlining the benefits of eliminating the school property tax in the Commonwealth. With 91 co-sponsors in the House and 22 in the Senate, Rep. Cox is confident the bill will appeal to both legislators and tax-payers. Matthew Knittel, director of the Independent Fiscal Office, has reviewed versions of the bill and says from a revenue perspective, the bill could be made to work in certain parts of the state.

Rep. Cox says the bill will save taxpayers money while still providing enough revenue to the state. He proposed the legislation after receiving complaints from constituents.

“The new version of the bill includes a comprehensive change in the accountability structure,” says Rep. Cox, adding that the bill sets up a way for school districts in debt to pay back loans before the complete elimination of the property tax.

Matthew Knittel finds the tax shift to be feasible from a purely revenue standpoint, as long as the personal income tax or sales tax rates are adjusted to offset the reduction in property taxes.

“The impact will differ across the state,” he explains. “There’s always going to be winners and losers. That’s inevitable.”

Rep. Cox says House Bill 76 will allow individuals and businesses more financial flexibility. These groups will be able to control what they consume and what they will be taxed for instead of paying a school property tax controlled by school boards.

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