Pennsylvania Considers Swapping State’s Property Tax for Sales Taxes

Published May 18, 2017

Pennsylvania lawmakers recently debated a bill proposing fundamental changes to how government schools are funded.

If passed into law, the bill would replace property taxes with increases to the state’s income tax and sales tax.

During the regular legislative session, state Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) testified in May in favor of Senate Bill 76, a bill sponsored by state Sen. David Argall (R- Schuylkill). SB 76 would increase the state’s sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent and raise the income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent.

The bill’s supporters say the current tax structure unfairly burdens older taxpayers on fixed incomes.

Renting, Not Owning

Jon Hopcraft, a spokesman for Argall, says SB 76 would be fairer for taxpayers.

“Property owners would no longer rent their homes from school districts,” Hopcraft said. “The school property tax is the fastest growing tax in the state, and not at all based on one’s ability to pay.”

Close to the Goal

An identical bill was narrowly defeated two years ago, with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (D) breaking a 24­–24 vote in the state’s Senate.

“No one anticipated we would be that close, but that shows how much the people of Pennsylvania hate the school property tax,” Hopcraft said.

Benefits for Homeowners

Hopcraft says eliminating the property tax is important for homeowners.

“It is truly the only tax that has the power to leave one homeless,” Hopcraft said.

Michael Carroll ([email protected]) is a writer for An earlier version of this article was published at Reprinted with permission.