Pennsylvania property tax measure heading to referendum

Pennsylvania property tax measure...

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania voters will have the chance to decide whether to amend the state constitution in what lawmakers call an effort to allow more significant residential property tax reductions.

The Senate voted 46-2 on Tuesday, clearing the way for the question to appear on the November statewide ballot. The bill also passed the House, as well as both chambers in the last two-year session of the Legislature.

Under the referendum question, voters can amend the constitution to allow counties, municipalities and school districts to exclude up to 100 percent of the median assessed value of homestead property from taxation.

"'Median assessed value' is the middle value of all the homesteads in a taxing district when you put them in numerical order," said House Bill 1285's primary sponsor, Berks County Republican state Rep. David Maloney, in a memo to his colleagues in April. "The simplest way to understand this - if you have three properties -- one worth $100,000, and another worth $200,000 and the last worth $150,000 -- when you place these values in numerical order, the "median assessed value" would be $150,000."

Currently, local governments can exclude up to 50 percent of the median assessed value. That was approved by voters in 1997.

"While this is the current mechanism to provide residential property tax relief, it is inadequate as it caps the amount of relief that can be provided," Maloney said. "This provision, if adopted, will improve upon an already established property tax relief mechanism by allowing for the elimination of residential school property taxes via the homestead exclusion."

Other sponsors of the bill include Berks County state Reps. Jim Cox, Mark Gillen, and Mark Rozzi; Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, whose district includes parts of both Berks and Lehigh counties; and Rep. Doyle Heffley, who serves Carbon County.

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