Forum focuses on tax reform
Property tax relief advocates, elected officials, real estate agents, and school leaders will meet at 11 a.m. Thursday for a roundtable discussion of how best to lessen the increasingly heavy burden of school taxes on the elderly, business owners and homeowners.
The gathering will take place at Lehighton Borough Hall, 1 Constitution Avenue. The roundtable is being held by the state Democratic Policy Committee at the request of state senators Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, and John Yudichak, D-Schuylkill. State Sen. David G. Argall, R-Schuylkill, will attend. The discussion will also include school superintendents Barbara Conway, of the Jim Thorpe Area School District and Jonathan Cleaver, of the Lehighton Area School District; Jim Thorpe school director Clement McGinley; county Controller Robert Crampsie; Lehighton school board president Rocky Ahner; Pennsylvania School Board Association liaison Gerard Grega; Jim Zurn, president, Carbon County Association of Realtors; Kimberly Skumanick, president-elect, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors; David Baldinger, spokesman of the PA Coalition of Taxpayer Associations; and Louis Lariazzo, leader, Carbon County Coalition of Taxpayers.
The group will debate various aspects of at least two proposed property tax relief bills, SB 76, sponsored by Argall; HB 1189, sponsored by state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, and Boscola's proposal, SB 484.
House Bill 76, also known as the Property Tax Independence Act, would eliminate property tax, replacing it with a combination of personal income, sales and use taxes. The bill would increase the sales tax, exempting necessities and business-to-business transactions, from 6 percent to 7 percent. It would also increase the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.
House Bill 1189, also known as the Optional Property Tax Replacement act, approved by the House on Oct. 2, would allow each school district to determine whether and how to replace its property tax levy, dollar for dollar, with income and other taxes.
Senate Bill 484 would freeze senior citizens' property tax bills at the current rates. It would bar property tax increases for anyone age 65 or older who have lived in their homes for at least five years, and make less than $65,000 a year.