Property taxes will not be eliminated

Published Jun 5, 2013 at 2:15 am (Updated May 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm)

In his letter of 22 May (“Property taxes will be eliminated when pigs fly”), Oren M. Spiegler excoriated the State Legislature for not eliminating property taxes.

But Pennsylvania doesn’t levy taxes on real property. How can the legislature repeal something it didn’t enact?

People can babble interminably about abolishing property taxes, but rarely propose any viable alternatives. Some believe that increasing the sales tax by some large number is the answer. Others are bewailing the fact that casinos and race tracks didn’t solve the problem.

Consider West Virginia. The “Mountain State” has had casinos and race tracks for generations and still has property taxes. In addition, their sales tax also applies to food and clothing.

Our state has tried to ease the burden somewhat by making partial property tax rebates available to senior citizens and the IRS has long permitted deductions for property taxes and many people are unaware that the agency allows a property tax deduction for the current value of an automobile.

In Allegheny County, the best we could hope for would be a drastic revision of the property assessment system that would rely on common sense and fewer witless court decisions on the matter. (Assessors are obsessed with corner lots; if a house on a corner lot is smaller than its next door neighbor, it is assessed at a higher rate.)

Eliminating property taxes is a nice goal, but it won’t be done by vitriolic rhetoric.

Ross A. Matlack Jr.

Mt. Lebanon

Property taxes will not be eliminated

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