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$540,701,000,000: U.S. Property Taxes Hit Record in 2016

Discussion in 'Topical Discussions (In Depth)' started by BarnacleBob, Mar 28, 2017.



  1. nickndfl

    nickndfl Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    If families were getting a return for their public educational investment via property taxes, then the argument would not be up for debate. There are many good schools, but lots of average to bad.

    When I was bussed to public high school class of 83', some kids would openly crush and snort Quaaludes on their desks and snort them with a straw during class in full view of the teacher. I went to Catholic school grades 2-8 and none of that went on.
     
  2. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    Stop the whining and fix the problem
    • By PETER R. WAITZE
    • Aug 8, 2017 Updated 9 hrs ago

    In every community, budget time for school boards is hand-wringing time. No one running for office openly vows to raise taxes, but raising taxes is always on the table. Raising taxes is often approved, and the explanation the school boards give is always the same. With tears in their eyes and sadness on their faces, they unanimously proclaim: “It ain’t our fault.” The local school board claims it is not responsible for the problem.

    Well, someone is. As is often reported, we are told the problem is always beyond their local control because the people causing it are from Harrisburg.

    In my view, it is a local problem. And it is time the locals did something to fix it.

    The reality is, they have been complicit in its existence because it has always been within their power to permanently fix it.

    Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Their hand wringing and whining and doing nothing does not solve problems. For example, as reported in the June 14 edition of the Courier Times: “(Bensalem Superintendent) Lee has said repeatedly throughout the budget process that Bensalem and other public school districts across the state are put in untenable financial positions by state- required expenses that the state mostly doesn’t help pay for.” He went on to cite over $42 million in local obligations “… with the state pitching in only $4.3 million of that amount.”

    Board member Lewis stated Harrisburg “… put Bensalem and other districts in very hard situations.”

    Oh my, oh my. What can we do? Assuming all of the allegations are accurate, and I am sure they are, then Harrisburg is indeed remiss, but the do-nothing school boards are remiss too, and they have been remiss for as long as this financial problem has existed.

    I can almost hear school board members and superintendents thinking: What to do? What to do? Gee, if only we had a friend in Harrisburg we could contact, someone we could talk to, then maybe we could get the problem solved.

    Ta-dah! Some school board members might be surprised to learn that we have a representative form of government so we do have a friend in Harrisburg we can talk to. No, wait, we have two of our own neighborhood friends in Harrisburg. We have a state representative and we have a state senator, and every other community in Pennsylvania with the same problems as we have has the same Harrisburg two-member representative arrangement. The path to a solution is therefore really, really obvious.

    On every school board there is a legal advisor, a paid lawyer. Let’s put all of these paid lawyers to work. In other words, since there are lots of these word wizards with legal expertise already available, we can instruct them to band together to draft whatever legislative solution they feel will absolutely and positively solve the money problem. Let’s stop the whining and let’s fix it.

    What I propose is fail-proof, and this is the best part. The school boards, working together, can craft the solution and then each one can simultaneously contact its two Harrisburg representatives with a fait accompli, and insist that they all co-sign this draft legislation and immediately introduce it to solve the local school budget money problem.

    Once the school boards get together and this process gets started, possibly even before the school boards’ version of a fix is complete, our representatives will surely hear of it and many of them will likely start to craft their own viable solution too. With so many people working on it, with near total unanimity, a bill will be drafted and will quickly pass, and the governor will sign it. The annual local school budget financial problem that has plagued us and every community and caused so much anguish will no longer exist.

    Now is the time to get started. Now is time to stop whining. Now is the time to stop thinking we are helpless. Now is the time to stop blaming others. It is time to stop wringing our hands while taxing ourselves into poverty. It is time to use the inherent power we have to fix this longstanding problem, so let’s stop the waiting and get busy doing it.

    Enjoying our content? Become a Bucks County Courier Times subscriber to support stories like these. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 44 cents a day.

    Peter R. Waitze, Bensalem, is a retired businessman and former chairman of the Bensalem Democratic Party. He served six years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, with highest rank being a captain.

    http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....cle_c9e7f73a-9578-52ff-82dc-7f69dfac7fc2.html
     
  3. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    Lions share of taxes go for schools, I have no problems with that, need to educate kids, my biggest gripe is that large apartment complexes that have large amounts of kids living there dont pay their fair share to the overall rate, if it were a 100 unit condo complex it would pay say 100x$1000 each unit for school taxes, I would bet each apartment is not on the tax rolls for half that amount.
     
  4. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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  5. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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  6. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    More school board crapola............

    'Public' officials should speak to the public
    • 11 hrs ago


    Public officials too often forget about the "public" part of their title, focusing instead on the "official" designation, which roughly translated is a person of authority.

    And that's the part that goes to their heads, yielding this very annoying attitude: "We're in charge. So just shut up and listen."

    That seems to be the attitude of Council Rock School Board members with regard to the likely closing of Rolling Hills Elementary School vs. Wrightstown Elementary, which also was in the running for closure. We say "likely" because although a final decision hasn't been made, early indicators are that the closing of Rolling Hills is pretty much a done deal.

    Twice board members voted for the closing; once as part of a capital master plan committee meeting and later as a decision to formally prepare the plan, including establishing a special hearing date. In doing so, some board members said a certain number of schools need to be kept in the northern part of the district, where Wrightstown is located

    Still, a growing army of Northampton residents, where Rolling Hills is located, hope to torpedo the deal. They have argued — armed with fact and reason — against the closure. They have circulated a petition bearing more than 500 signatures calling on the board to host a Q&A session. And they have convinced the Northampton Township Board of Supervisors to formally weigh in against the closing. To that end, the supervisors voted to submit a list of 11 reasons why the school board should revisit its two unpopular non-binding votes.

    What stands out about the school board's unofficial decision is the members' refusal to discuss it. Yes, that special hearing will be held. But such hearings tend to be mere formalities that satisfy a state mandate. Faced with angry opponents, board members tend to sit mute while administrators and consultants rehash the studies and findings that led to the board's decision.

    It's why concerned Northampton residents have called for a question and answer session prior to the hearing. They want their elected representatives to speak directly with the people who elected them. Residents are justified in making that request. And they're more than justified in expecting board members to cooperate.

    That the board has not embraced the request is naturally making people angry and suspicious. Indeed, the chief promoter of the petition drive says the board's decision is "shrouded in mystery and to many, has begun to feel like a conspiracy." She accused board members of "failing to deliver on your promise of transparency."

    These are perceptions school board members should not want residents harboring as they engage in a process already fraught with emotion and bad feelings. From what we've seen, residents have raised sound questions and deserve thoughtful answers.

    We don't doubt, as the school board president said in an email to this newspaper, that the board gave the issue "great thought and deliberated at length." If so, board members should have no problem explaining their thinking, which to a great number of reasonable people remains a mystery.

    Enjoying our content? Become a Bucks County Courier Times subscriber to support stories like these. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 44 cents a day.

    http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....cle_62908d1b-8c38-5745-a8d5-a77d8a10dce9.html
     
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  7. Hystckndle

    Hystckndle Daguerreotype Fanatic Site Mgr Site Supporter ++

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    Tax " rate" stayed the same here.
    Just the assessments went up.
    My " hood "...20 ish % across the board.
    Same as other places in the same county.
    Just got the letters this week.
     
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  8. edsl48

    edsl48 Silver Member Silver Miner

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    In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
    Mark Twain
    https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain131252.html
     
  9. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    Odd they dont include taxes of all forms in the inflation index isnt it?

     
  10. Hystckndle

    Hystckndle Daguerreotype Fanatic Site Mgr Site Supporter ++

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    Yeah, 10 4... BS across the board.
    Got a form from next county.
    Actually have 2.
    The ONLY one that didnt go up double digits is the one with no permitted improvements in 2015 or 2016 or 2017. So...if you improve....you pay.

    Articles in Lake County papers, next one over....
    " but rates have NOT gone up "
    Repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Uhhhh..how stooooopid do you think we are ?
    6% of 100 is not the same as 6% of 125.
    Semantical gymnastics.
    Yeah..technically the rate did not change.
    A hoot.
    Don t get me started on water rates.
    Hadda shut myself off from the neighborhood / city forum on that.
    People squealing about the water rate...blah...blah...blah...
    So I posted...
    " Yo...lookit the TREATMENT rate...theres the % increase...as in double digits and root cause "
    Here the county private utility " sells " the wastewater or subs the treatment to the City.
    They have gone up 100s of % in years I have lived here.
    Tripling the water rate on the arse end.
    Front end is but a pittance.
    Anyways...people ...or actually... Local long time realtor in hody hood next to mine said I was not correct.....
    Said waste water went " into the sewer "...
    Were gonna fight me then picket the utility.
    Cannot reason with dumbass.
    Read the invoice.
    Lmao.

    So anyways...trying to figure out rental costs to stay at 6 % net return or a little more.
    If it goes into low 5s or below.
    Im out of rentals in a few years.
    Not worth the risk.
    More spreadsheet this weekend.
    Regards SF...glad the storm is across the way from you.
    Haystack
     
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  11. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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  12. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    FWIW...........

    Why it's not a good idea to end Pa.'s property tax | Editorial
    Updated: October 25, 2017 — 1:16 PM EDT

    The Daily News Editorial Board


    Citizens going into the voting booth on Nov. 7 will find a pleasant surprise. They will be asked to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with local property taxes.

    That’s not precisely the wording on the ballot — it talks about raising the homestead exemption on residential properties to 100 percent — but that is its effect.

    Naturally, most will have an irresistible urge to press the “Yes” button. After all, who likes to pay property taxes?


    But stop for a minute and consider the reality behind this simply worded question.

    No free lunch

    Property taxes are used to fund public schools. They cannot be abolished without replacing that money. There are bills in the state legislature today to increase the state income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent to partly fill in the hole.

    Another would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent (and from 8 percent to 9 percent in Philadelphia) and remove exemptions on such items as food, nonprescription drugs, and some clothing.

    Depending on your income and current property taxes, you could end up paying more.

    Ifs, ands, and buts

    The ballot question, which would need further action in subsequent years to become law, makes the plan look simple, but it is not. For instance, taxpayers will have to pay property taxes on the portion of their school districts’ long-term debt.

    The Philadelphia School District, for instance, has $270 million in long-term debt, a figure equal to about 10 percent of its total budget.

    Another but: Though the portion of property taxes that goes to fund schools will be erased, taxpayers will still have to pay the portion of property taxes that finances local government. In Philadelphia, 45 percent of property tax revenue goes to city government.

    Who’s in charge?

    Right now, the state has 503 elected school boards that set policy and control spending and taxes when it comes to local schools. Under this proposal, the local boards would lose that control.

    In effect, the legislature will have sole power to set spending and taxes.

    One proposal would set up a special fund to receive and dole out school subsidy money. But, this new method bakes in the inequities already evident in the school funding formula. It ends all attempts to give more aid to poor districts. The state’s unfair system of funding education will remain unfair.

    The unforeseen

    Under the ballot plan, districts are supposed to be held harmless; they will get as much in the year this new system goes into effect as they did in the year before. After that, the legislature will give them increases based on the rate of inflation.

    What happens if expenses rise 3 percent while inflation is 2 percent? The district gets 2 percent. What happens if the legislature decides not to give any increase or takes money out of the special education fund to pay for other projects? (It’s been known to happen.) Tough luck for local districts.

    What this ballot amendment adds up to is a state takeover of local education that offers no promise of fair or increased funding for public education. A “No” vote is the best vote.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/do-away-with-property-tax-better-think-again-20171025.html
     
  13. Cigarlover

    Cigarlover Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    I say do away with the tax and if people want to put their kids in schools let them pay for it. I know this doesn't seem "Fair" to the poor but is it fair for anyone who works to support everyone else who decides not to work and instead stay home and breed to get the Gov freebies? If they are smart enough to have kids then they are smart enough to home school them. In fact any home school kid will probably be better off than any other brain dead indoctrinated child put through the system. Maybe you can teach the kids how to really do math too instead of this common core stuff. If more people home schooled we wouldn't need multi million dollar school complexes and those who pay for schooling for their children will demand their child gets a good education. Schools will stop being baby sitting places and become learning institutions once again.
    In Europe kids finish school at 16. I never understood the need to go to school until we are 18 here. Total waste of time. Bored me to death when I was in school.

    Of course the poor will bitch and complain the most while driving their new beemers and talking on their new shiny phones but if their child is important to them then they will find a way to educate them. Or, maybe they will lose the incentive to keep breeding and then they wont have to worry about it at all.
     
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  14. <SLV>

    <SLV> Gold Member Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    50% of my property tax goes to the local Church of Humanism. I don't want my kids anywhere near that Broad Road to Destruction, so I pay for them to attend a small private school. It really chafes me that I have to pay for something I despise and disagree with vehemently. Furthermore, they have a budget of about $14,000 per year for every student. At my kids' school they run on a budget of $360 per year per student and our standardized test scores are leaps and bounds ahead of the local lavishly funded government institution.

    This year our local school board decided to rebuild the athletic field at a cost of $8,000,000. EVEN THOUGH a majority of the community came out in opposition to it.

    I say let every family pay for their own kids education, and make the cost completely tax deductible. I don't even care if there is an "Earned Education Tax Credit" to help offset the cost for poorer families.

    Wisconsin property taxes are among the worst in the country. I bought a house for $45,000, and the annual property tax on it is $2,500. Ridiculous.
     
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  15. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    Just got my new bill, up 4% even though inflation is only 2% how about that one.
     
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  16. dacrunch

    dacrunch Platinum Bling Platinum Bling

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    I remember going to the local elections in my town in the 80's or 90's. The ballot was held in the school K-8 gym. It was a magnificent basketball room, with light maple floors, so polished and smooth you could eat off them.
    On the ballot, one of the items was hundreds of thousands to "replace the basketball court". Huh? What? Am I reading this right?
    I don't remember if it passed - but it was a really wealthy town, so I imagine it did, even if the absurdity of it (and the contracting fraud, most likely) jumped in my face.
    Property taxes in that town are about $10k a year for the "average 3 bedroom house"... A bit "fancier" and it's $18k/year.
    I moved.
     
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  17. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    Often thought that there needs to be a way to get rid of any elected official who goes against the will of the people..........especially when it comes to spending tax payer's money.
     
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  18. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    I believe the new tax plan removes the deduction for property taxes and mortgage interest
     
  19. <SLV>

    <SLV> Gold Member Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    Mortgage interest deduction remains. However, most people will take the new standard deduction because it will be larger than itemizing.
     
  20. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    On the local scene.............

    Property tax changes proposed on Tuesday’s ballot

    By James Boyle

    Monday
    Posted at 7:06 AM



    A ballot question asks voters Tuesday to grant state and local lawmakers the authority to change property tax assessments.

    While choosing candidates for county and local offices, Pennsylvania voters on Tuesday will also decide whether to amend the state Constitution to allow the general Assembly to change how school districts collect taxes.

    Since 1997, school taxing authorities have had the ability to exempt up to 50 percent of a homestead’s assessed value from property taxes. If approved, the new amendment eventually could grant local school boards authority to expand that exemption to 100 percent of the assessed value. However, as pointed out by Jenkintown accountant Jay Brower in a blog posted Thursday on the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the ballot question is just another of several steps before this amendment would make a difference on property taxes.

    As he explains, a “yes” vote would grant the general assembly the power to draft legislation that would allow the local school boards to decide if they want to use those homestead exemptions. That legislation would need to endure the standard bill-making process through the House and Senate and reach the governor’s desk.

    Then it will be up to individual school districts to take advantage. Districts control whether they provide the exemptions and at what percentage. They do not have to recognize the exemptions, and offer any tax relief.

    It’s also important to note that a 100 percent exemption on a homestead’s assessed value does not mean a complete repeal of all property taxes. The exemption would not be applied to businesses, including apartment buildings or rented homes, and can only be used by taxpayers who have declared their property a homestead.

    “The homestead is the main home where you live,” said Brower in an interview Friday morning. “It is not a vacation home or a business property. An apartment building is a revenue-generating property, and renters will not see relief in their monthly rent.”

    The homestead label is not automatically given to every homeowner, Brower said, and the sale of a home declared a homestead does not transfer the designation to the new owner. To take advantage of the exemption, a homeowner must file paperwork with the county assessor declaring the property as the primary residence before the exemptions can be applied.

    Tuesday’s ballot question proposes an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution and asks voters, “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

    While most primary residences would be considered a homestead under the law, it is up to the individual homeowner to register as a homestead with the county. There is no income or age eligibility rules for having a property declared a homestead.

    If approved, the new amendment would be a major victory for lawmakers and organizations that have advocated for years to revise or repeal altogether school funding through property taxes. State bills that created the ballot question passed the general assembly in two consecutive sessions with little opposition, just two nay votes from Republican state Sens. Michele Brooks, Mercer County, and Scott Hutchinson, Venango County. The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, the Pennsylvania Liberty Alliance and the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors have expressed support for the measure.

    What the ballot question does not ask, however, is how voters would prefer to make up the revenue that would be lost if homesteads are 100 percent exempt. Brower says it’s unlikely that school districts will be able to cut spending enough to make up the revenue loss, and increases in local sales taxes or earned income taxes might be necessary. In a statement lobbying for the complete repeal of property taxes, PASBO estimates that the state income tax would increase from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent and sales tax would be raised from 6 percent to 7 percent. The products and services subject to a sales tax also would be expanded.

    Mark Miller, Centennial school board member and former president of the Pennsylvania School Board Association, expects voters to say “Yes” because it’s an easy answer. What’s not easy is making those ideas a reality, he said.

    “I expect it to pass by an overwhelming margin, because 80 percent of (Pennsylvania) households don’t have children,” said Miller. “It’s a ridiculous question that won’t do anything. We already have the ability to exempt up to 50 percent of a homestead’s value, and no school district goes beyond 10 to 12 percent.”

    Brower confirmed that no Pennsylvania school district exempts 50 percent of a homestead’s assessed value, the full amount permitted by current state law. Slot revenue from Pennsylvania casinos provide some relief to homesteads and farmsteads. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, that revenue provides an average $200 in property tax relief to homeowners outside Philadelphia, which uses the revenue to reduce city wage taxes. To completely replace the revenue lost from 100 percent homestead exemptions, casinos would need to generate nearly $7 billion of slot revenue, Miller said. For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the state’s casinos generated a total $2.3 billion in gross slot revenues.

    “No school board likes to tax their neighbors,” said Miller. “Unless the general assembly comes up with some equitable funding, the districts can’t get rid of it.”

    http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....rty-tax-changes-proposed-on-tuesdays-ballot/1
     
  21. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    A vote for tax exclusion doesn’t necessarily mean paying less tax

    By James Brower, CPA
    Monday
    Posted at 5:22 AM


    On Tuesday, along with candidates for county and local offices and statewide judicial races, voters will face the following question when they enter the voting booth:

    “Property-Tax-Referendum”: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

    Voters may select “Yes” or “No.”

    Whether they can decipher the sentence is another matter.

    What’s being asked is whether you want to amend the state Constitution to give the Legislature the power to give counties, municipalities, and school districts the ability to exempt up to 100 percent of a “homestead” property’s assessed value from local property taxes. Currently, the state constitution gives the Legislature the power to authorize local tax authorities to exempt up to 50 percent of a homestead’s value from property tax.

    Due to the Pennsylvania Constitution’s “Uniformity Clause,” tax rates on properties in a taxing jurisdiction must be the same, so, absent a constitutional amendment, a homestead property valued at $100,000 must pay the same amount in property tax as a commercial property valued at $100,000.

    A “homestead” is someone’s principal residence. It does not include rental property, business property, vacation homes, etc. If a homestead has an assessed value of $150,000 and the municipality in which it is located provides for a 25 percent homestead exemption, the municipal property tax (millage) rate is applied to 75 percent of the property’s assessed value ($112,500) to determine the municipal property tax for the assessment year.

    A “Yes” vote means that you favor giving the Legislature the ability to grant local tax authorities the power to exempt up to 100 percent of a homestead property’s value from property tax. A “No” vote means that you do not want to give the legislature that power, in which case the current 50 percent limitation will continue to apply.

    Understand that if this referendum passes, it does not mean that local property taxes will be eliminated.

    It means that voters are conferring power upon the state Legislature to draft new laws that might give local tax jurisdictions the ability to provide for up to a 100 percent exemption from property taxes for homesteads. If the referendum passes and the Legislature, with the governor’s consent, enacts such legislation, it would be up to the local tax jurisdictions to provide homestead exemptions of up to 100 percent of a property’s value as they choose to see fit. Currently, very few jurisdictions actually exempt up to the allowed 50 percent of a property’s assessed value.

    The reason why is that, under present law, a local jurisdiction that provides for a homestead exemption may not increase property tax (millage) rates on nonhomestead properties to pay for homestead tax relief. In order words, they’re not allowed to force nonhomestead property owners in the jurisdiction to pay more in property taxes by increasing tax/millage rates on them so that homestead owners can pay less by providing homestead exemptions.

    Instead, the jurisdictions are required to hold voter referendums to ask residents whether they favor providing homestead relief in return for increasing earned income taxes or imposing a personal income tax. If they do, the tax jurisdiction would set the earned income or personal income tax rates at a level to generate enough tax to make up for the reduction in property taxes. Back in 2007, all school districts in Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia) were required to hold these referendums, and less than 2 percent had a majority of their residents approve an income tax increase in exchange for a property tax decrease.

    If the referendum passes, it is possible that in the future we may see local tax authorities asking their residents to vote on imposing additional local earned or personal income taxes to provide for a complete exemption from property tax for homestead owners in the jurisdiction. The legislature might also allow the jurisdictions to impose additional sales or other taxes, although current legislation does not provide for that.

    Alternatively, instead of holding local voter referendums, the Legislature might decide to fund local property tax relief by allocating additional state funding to jurisdictions that have enacted increased homestead exemptions. Suffice it to say, if a local jurisdiction does decide to provide for homestead exemptions, the decrease in property tax revenues will need to be made up by increasing other taxes or decreasing spending.

    James M. Brower Jr., CPA, is a partner in the firm Marks Paneth LLP in Jenkintown, Pa. He is a member of the PICPA Federal and State Taxation committees, and past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

    http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....ion-doesnt-necessarily-mean-paying-less-tax/1
     
  22. nickndfl

    nickndfl Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    Got my local love letters and my portion is $10k+.
     
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  23. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    Pa. ballot question on property taxes passed. Here's what it means
    Updated: November 7, 2017 — 10:36 PM EST

    by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer

    Pennsylvania took a first step toward a potential property tax overhaul Tuesday, as voters approved a constitutional amendment that could lead to change.

    The ballot question, which asked whether taxing authorities should be able to exempt residents from paying property taxes on their primary residences, was poised to pass, with preliminary results showing the amendment winning approval with 93 percent of districts reporting results.

    “I’m excited that the people of Pennsylvania got to speak, and I think they made it pretty clear,” said Rep. David Maloney (R., Berks), who sponsored the bill that created the ballot question. “I think it’s a significant step forward, and I think, in some respects, the legislature probably needed to see this.”

    The vote marked a concrete move toward changing or eliminating a levy that has been a long-standing source of complaint. Lawmakers and advocates say that the current reliance on property taxes — which account for about 30 percent of local and state revenue in Pennsylvania and are a primary source of school funding — is especially harmful to homeowners on fixed incomes. The issue has gained greater traction in recent years; Gov. Wolf has said he supports the elimination of property taxes.

    But Tuesday’s vote will not change anything immediately.

    The referendum allows the legislature to pass a law that would permit taxing authorities to exempt residents from paying any tax on their primary residences.

    Even if the legislature passes such a bill, individual taxing authorities — counties, municipalities, and school districts — would have to enact their own exemptions. They would apply only to primary residences; taxes would have to be paid on commercial and industrial properties and on second homes.

    Taxing authorities would have to find replacement revenue sources, which likely would require more state legislation.

    Some grassroots groups of Pennsylvania homeowners have pushed for a bill known as the Property Tax Independence Act, which would eliminate property taxes by raising sales and income taxes.

    School districts have been watching the issue closely. Jay Himes, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, told the Inquirer and Daily News that having an option to eliminate property taxes for primary residences is a good idea, provided replacement revenue is available. His group opposes the Property Tax Independence Act and other efforts to eliminate all school property taxes. Wolf has also said he sees problems with that bill.

    Among the issues that school officials and other opponents have with the bill is its provision that residents would continue paying property taxes on their school districts’ existing debt, making tax payments unequal and widely variable among the state’s 501 districts. And school boards would cede some control over school funding.

    But supporters of the bill, which include both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, say that the passage of the constitutional amendment Tuesday gives them more flexibility to deal with some of opponents’ issues. For example, the bill could now be amended to only eliminate school property taxes for primary residences, instead of all property taxes.

    “That does send a clear message,” said Ron Boltz, president of the Pennsylvania Liberty Alliance, one of the taxpayer groups that pushed for the amendment.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/p...x-amendment-voting-results-2017-20171107.html
     
  24. 00nightstorm

    00nightstorm Seeker Seeker

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    I don't know what the hell happened to this forum. There is a completely different crowd here then there was 10-12 years ago. You young millennials are all socialists and you don't even know it. Please look up the Non-Aggression Principle and educate yourselves. There is no such thing as a "public dime". The government does not have the power to create a benefit (like public education) out of thin air. In order to give a benefit to someone (even a child) they must take it away from someone else (in the form of taxation). This is Socialism. Even a child does not have a natural born right to the property or labor of someone else. It's PARENTS that should be in charge of providing an education for their children, not the government, and if the parents fail to provide this for their children, then the child should grow up without an education. That's the cost of freedom. Why should some farmer, like me: who doesn't have any kids, be forced to pay property taxes to support the education of someone else's child. Is that freedom? The replies on this thread are god-given proof of the dangers of public education.
     
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  25. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    It's budget season: Will your local taxes increase in 2018?
    Updated: November 26, 2017 — 5:13 AM EST


    by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer


    As Pennsylvania lawmakers emerge from their latest budget impasse and Congress weighs an overhaul of the tax system, local and county governments are setting their budgets for next year.

    Property taxes will remain level in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, according to preliminary budgets. But in Bucks County and some boroughs and townships around the region, property owners could see an increase in their 2018 bills.

    School district tax rates, which account for the largest share of property taxes in Pennsylvania, are not set until June when local school boards finalize their budgets. Counties and municipalities — which must pass budgets in December — use property taxes to fund services including courts, community colleges, street repair, snow removal, police departments, and fire stations.

    Tax rates vary widely, and homeowners’ total bills also are dependent on their property assessment, but property taxes traditionally have been a four-figure burden for households across the region. The median annual bill tops $4,000 for homeowners in the Pennsylvania counties that ring Philadelphia. South Jerseyans have it worse: Property owners in Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington counties all have median tax bills of more than $6,000, according to the Tax Foundation, an independent nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C.

    Bucks County’s last tax hike, in 2012, amounted to an additional $45 per year for the average homeowner. But next year’s preliminary budget projects a deficit of $18 million — and officials are still considering how to close that gap. Options include increasing property taxes, spending reserve funds, and cutting spending on other areas.

    “I’m not sure if I can get to zero without a tax increase,” said David Boscola, Bucks County’s director of finance and administration. “But [the commissioners] haven’t given me any indication whether this was a decision that they have made or not at this point.”

    Boscola blamed the deficit on cost-of-living pay increases built into labor contracts and additional spending to fight the opioid crisis — such as hiring more county detectives.

    Montgomery County had an 11 percent tax hike in 2017, but still has the lowest tax rate of the four counties surrounding Philadelphia; Chester County raised the tax rate by nearly 5 percent in 2017. Delaware County officials plan to keep taxes level for the fourth year in a row.

    Local leaders also are watching Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., closely as they make plans for 2018.

    If the federal tax bill passes, “that is certainly going to impact our constituents … and that could lead to pressure from our constituents to eliminate or lower taxes,” said Valerie Arkoosh, chairwoman of the Montgomery County Commissioners.

    Arkoosh said she has voiced concerns to her county’s congressional delegation about the tax plan — especially about the proposal to cap the property tax deduction and another measure that would end a deduction on interest for bonds that local governments use to borrow money.

    Chester County’s healthcare benefits costs will increase by $1.4 million in 2018, said Mark Rupsis, the county’s chief operating officer, and the opening of a new firing range at the public safety training campus will increase the county’s operating costs. But the county has healthy reserve funds, Rupsis said, which would be important if the state has another lengthy budget impasse.

    “It’s always on our mind because … over 40 percent of our budget is state funding,” Rupsis said. “So it’s always an area of concern.”

    Marianne Grace, Delaware County’s executive director, said uncertainty over the future of state funding leads to careful decisions in the budget process.

    “You would want to be aware that things can change,” Grace said. “And I think that’s really what you have to do in local government.”

    Among communities proposing tax increases are Cheltenham and Upper Darby — both of which already have relatively high tax rates.

    Cheltenham’s budget went up due to salary and benefits, sewer treatment costs, and debt payments on infrastructure improvements, according to a budget message posted on the township’s website. The proposed tax increase would amount to an additional $65.80 per year for the average home with an assessment of $150,000.

    In Upper Darby, Mayor Thomas Micozzie said the township’s proposed 2018 budget includes an increase in property taxes from $20.37 to $20.95 per $1,000 in assessed value. He said most of the budget increase is to cover pension payments and public safety costs.

    “There’s no mystery in municipal budgets,” Micozzie said. “We’re all struggling.”

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/p...cks-montco-delco-chester-county-20171126.html
     
  26. searcher

    searcher Mother Lode Found Site Supporter ++ Mother Lode

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    Best bet is to read this one at the link.

    Are you one of more than 200,000 people paying too much in property taxes?
    Updated: December 14, 2017 — 7:04 AM EST
    by Laura McCrystal & Michaelle Bond - Staff Writers


    The house on Massachusetts Avenue in Upper Darby had been sitting on the market for a while when Tim Miles and his wife bought it for $185,000 last year.

    Miles said the Realtor told him why other prospective buyers had been wary: “The taxes were really high,” said Miles, 28, a lawyer. “And I think that’s probably why they weren’t able to sell as quickly.”

    The annual bill for the two-story house on a sixth of an acre was more than $10,500. The township has some of the region’s highest taxes, but Miles’ property levy was thousands of dollars higher than even those on comparably priced homes in the township.

    The reason: The county estimate of the home’s worth — the “assessment” on which the tax bill is based — was too high.

    Inaccurate assessments — primarily the result of varying rates of property appreciation — are common throughout Pennsylvania.

    Why? Years or decades pass between countywide reassessments, leaving many property owners to pay more than their fair share — or less. Delaware County’s are so out of whack that a judge has ordered the county to revalue all its properties.

    Helping the Neighbors
    Owners of lower-priced properties often subsidize wealthier neighbors, because they pay taxes on higher percentages of market value than owners of pricier homes. Based on ratios, here are estimated school and municipal tax bills for houses in four towns; what the bills would be if ratios were uniform, and the over- and underpayments.


    [​IMG]

    SOURCES: Pa. Tax Equalization Division; county tax records;Inquirer/Daily News analysis
    Staff Graphic


    All told, in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, more than 210,000 homeowners could be overpaying their taxes, based on state standards, according to an analysis by the Inquirer and Daily News of sales and property records and state data. In effect, they are helping to subsidize the tax bills of roughly an equal number who are underpaying.

    Chances are most homeowners don’t know it.

    Property assessments are set by counties in Pennsylvania. Unlike some other states, the state does not require regular reassessments. The International Association of Assessing Officers recommends they be done every year.

    In New Jersey, revaluations are conducted by towns, and more frequently. Philadelphia overhauled its system in 2013 and reassesses annually, primarily through computer analysis of recent sales. Not that property levies are beloved in the city or the Garden State.

    But nearly two decades have passed since mass appraisals in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, and Richard Nixon was president the last time Bucks County did so. The result is a significant imbalance in the tax bills that pay for everything from teacher salaries to police protection to mosquito spraying. Property taxes also affect renters, because they are passed along in monthly bills.

    Reassessments are costly — and political minefields that county officials would prefer to avoid.

    In the meantime, counties annually submit prices and assessment ratios for all sales. The state then calculates an average — or common level — ratio for each county as a measure of fairness and to establish the appeal standard. For example, in Delaware County for this year the ratio is 61, meaning that a $100,000 house should be assessed and taxed based on $61,000 of value. The ratio in Chester County is 52.9; it’s 54.1 in Montgomery. Because it’s been 45 years since reassessment in Bucks, the ratio is only 10.9.

    The flaw in the system is obvious: Communities within a county don’t evenly rise or fall in value. Delaware County, for example, spans 190 square miles, from the rough streets of Chester to the upscale homes of Newtown Square. Struggling towns’ properties lose value over time while market values increase in wealthier communities, or they can rocket if a town suddenly becomes hot.

    The result: Even when using the ratio system, many assessments are too high or too low.

    Between countywide revaluations, assessments change only if an owner appeals or builds an addition. Newly constructed homes receive fresh assessments.

    Don Weiss, a Delaware County-based lawyer who represents clients in assessment appeals, said the system is not only unfair for taxpayers — it’s also difficult for them to understand. Tax bills don’t include the market value, and it is left to the homeowner to figure it out. In New Jersey and Philadelphia, the assessment is supposed to match the value.

    “If the people in Harrisburg, if they would get a clue, they would put down that every county at the very least has to put on their tax bill what the real value is, not just the assessment,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation throughout the whole state.”

    Up and down in Delco

    In Delaware County, where a court-mandated reassessment is about to begin, more than one-third of homes are overassessed, and nearly one-third of homeowners are paying too little in taxes because their assessments are too low, according to the Inquirer and Daily News analysis.

    Some of the county’s economically struggling towns — Upland, Darby, and Marcus Hook Boroughs — are among the most overassessed municipalities on average. Radnor and Haverford Townships and Media Borough are the most underassessed.

    Low Income, High Tax Rate
    With a few exceptions, Delaware County’s lower-income communities bear the highest tax rates. The chart below shows the relationship between each municipality’s median household income and the percent of its market value that is actually taxed.
    For example, Darby Borough has a low median household income of $34,199, but its residential properties are effectively taxed at 216 percent of market value — meaning the typical homeowner pays more than twice what it should in property taxes.
    Roll over the markers on the graphic for more information.


    Staff Graphic


    The figures aren’t quite as bad in the neighboring counties, but more than 20 percent of homes in Montgomery and Chester Counties are overassessed, while 16 percent of Bucks County homeowners are paying too much, and roughly a third are paying too little.

    Although the system might be confusing, modern times do offer some advantages. Online public records and commercial websites such as Zillow and Trulia offer a trove of data in just a few clicks.

    “Sometimes you look at your neighbors and what they’re paying in taxes and it drives you crazy,” Robert Adshead, a member of the Montgomery County board, explained to one homeowner at an appeals hearing this year. “There’s a million reasons why that could happen.”

    Order from the court

    Lenore and James Kaufman were among the homeowners whose assessment appeals moved a Delaware County judge to order a countywide reassessment this year.

    The Rose Valley couple bought their home in the Traymore development in 2014 for $721,000. Their newly constructed three-bedroom home came with an annual tax bill of more than $36,000. After their successful appeal, their tax bill was reduced by more than $11,000 per year.

    Their situation is a common one for owners of newly constructed homes in every county. New construction is hit with the going ratio at the time the property is sold. The assessment on a new home purchased in 2014 is likely to carry a significantly higher ratio than on one bought in 2000. Neighbors in older homes often reap the benefits.

    Delaware County approved a $6 million contract earlier this month for its reassessment. Marianne Grace, the county’s executive director, said it will involve using computer data, taking aerial photos of properties, and making some door-to-door visits. Homeowners will have a year to appeal their new assessments before they go into effect.

    Chester, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties have no similar plans, officials said. However, both Chester and Delaware Counties were ordered to reassess in the 1990s, and Montgomery County eventually did the same.

    Bucks County, which has the lowest percentage of overassessed homes in the four counties, has remained a holdout. County officials say the levels of any assessment inaccuracies haven’t been a problem. “It doesn’t make sense for us to spend $10 million or $15 million of taxpayer money to resolve an issue that really doesn’t exist on the average,” said David Boscola, director of finance and administration for Bucks County.

    Relatively few properties end up being assessed right at the county ratios, and assessments vary among towns and neighborhoods. In many cases, property owners who paid similar amounts for similar homes in the same town can have vastly different tax bills.

    When homeowners appeal, they must present county boards with sales information for comparable homes to make a case that the county’s market value overstates the value of their houses.

    Boards of assessment appeals in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester Counties heard more than 4,300 appeals this year — from homeowners with mobile homes to those with mansions.

    Some taxpayers compare their tax bills with their neighbors’ and think they must be paying too much if their neighbors pay less, which is a “big misconception,” said Betty Jane McCardell, chair of the Chester County board. “We compare market value, not assessments.”

    Susan Callahan, a grant writer for the Moyer Foundation children’s charity, and her husband, Norman, a doctor, knew they were probably paying too much in taxes on their Easttown Township home. But it was one of those things they never got around to addressing, even as they got the occasional letter in the mail from lawyers saying they could be eligible for lower bills.

    “You’re never really sure if that’s something that’s legitimate,” said Susan Callahan, 54, who bought her home 15 years ago for $720,000.

    Her Realtor and friend told her recently she would never be able to sell her house in the future if she didn’t do something about her property taxes.

    A few hundred dollars for an appraisal, and a five-minute tax assessment appeal hearing later, and the Callahans will pay roughly $3,600 less in taxes next year. Their house’s assessment dropped by $118,720.

    “If I’d known it was that simple, I would have done it sooner,” Callahan said.

    Jack Nash, who lives in Montgomery County, knew the system before he appealed his property assessment this year.

    He is a certified appraiser, and he often appears before the appeals board on behalf of clients who own commercial properties. But this fall, he came to talk about his own home in New Hanover Township.

    Nash purchased his home for $241,445 in 1999 and has tracked the county ratios closely. Finally, this year he saw a window of opportunity for appeal.

    “Every year, that ratio comes out in June and the first thing I do is — I don’t go to any of my clients’ tax bills — I go to my tax bill,” Nash said. “For 10 years I’ve been looking at it and finally it was like, it’s time.”

    He appeared before the board in October, and heard a few weeks later that his assessment would be lowered. Nash will save about $700 in taxes next year.

    Remedies

    In response to lawsuits through the years challenging the fairness of the state’s property assessment system, a legislative task force formed a year ago to address the issue.

    “We want taxpayers to feel the process is fair and they understand how it’s done,” said State Rep. Kate Harper (R., Montgomery), a member of the task force.

    It also is developing a “self-assessment tool” with objective criteria that county assessors and taxpayers can use to compare counties and figure out whether reassessment is needed, Harper said.

    Inequities in assessments also have served as a rallying cry for Pennsylvania residents who would like to limit or eliminate property taxes.

    Other critics of the system have suggested mandating regular reassessments, or requiring them once a county’s ratio reaches a specific number.

    “What Pennsylvania needs is … cyclical assessments,” said Robert P. Strauss, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

    While they wait for elusive reform, Kay Mooney of Fox & Roach and her fellow real estate agents keep close track of assessments when advising clients.

    “When I get a call from somebody, I immediately pull up their tax records and see what they’re paying,” Mooney said.

    “Lots of times, they have no idea they’re paying more than somebody else.”


    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-property-taxes-assessment-20171214.html
     
  27. Cigarlover

    Cigarlover Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    I do think property taxes are the main reason the real estate market is never allowed to correct.All of the governments across the US are dependent upon the tax revenue.

    In Oh last year the governor declared real estate prices were 5% higher than they actually are just because that's means a raise in property tax revenues as well.

    Just in my lifetime the value of a home when I was born was less than the taxes on a home today. Its all a fiction propped up with the 30 year mortgage. Do away with that and you go back 100 years to the 5 year mortgage and property values are about 10-20% of what they are today. Do away with mortgages altogether and property values are whatever people can pay with cash. Probably about 10% of todays values.
     
  28. nickndfl

    nickndfl Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    There is nothing wrong with a mortgage if it is within budget. In many parts of Florida you need to buy anything affordable ASAP because if you wait you cannot save fast enough to keep up with price appreciation.

    We got hit in the financial crisis, but we are back now baby!
     
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  29. Cigarlover

    Cigarlover Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Another inequity in the system is the following.
    I have a 30 year old house. Somehow it keeps going up in value. Someone can build the same house down the road and it will be worth the same yet they don't have 30 year old problems to deal with and maintain. 30 year old siding, windows, roofs ect...If anything older homes should go down in value and have less taxes paid so more money can go into upkeep.

    Your only going to make so much money in your lifetime. If you take out a 30 year mortgage and pay 800k over 30 years for a 300k house thats 500k wasted to the banks. If your lucky you will get that 500k back after 30 years of appreciation. Then the next sucker has to finance 800k for 30 years and pay 2 mil over 30 years for the same house.
    Then of course you become a slave to your home for 30 years.
    So yes mortgages are great if your a banker. Not so great if you just want a roof over your head and a place to raise your faMILY AND BE FREE.
     
  30. dacrunch

    dacrunch Platinum Bling Platinum Bling

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    Paying the towns 1/20th of the house's value every year, in 20 years you pay the town as much as the house.
     

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