Will 2017 Bring Property Tax Reform in Pennsylvania?
The year 2016 is quickly drawing to a close. The holiday season is often a time of reflection and hope. A hope I hold for the coming year is that our legislators have a renewed interest in property tax reform in Pennsylvania.
Since the early 1830’s property taxes have been debated in the halls of the Pennsylvania State Capital. Ever since that time it has been the hope of most homeowners that the debate would result in the abolishment of, or at the very least reasonable, property taxation. But alas, property tax reform in Pennsylvania remains the hope of many.
It is hard to believe that one year has passed since Senator Argall’s “Property Tax Independence” bill was struck down by one solitary vote. Visit my website and read the article I wrote about the event called “Once Again, Pennsylvania Left at the Property Tax Reform Altar.”
Recently, there has been some rumblings from the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition. Coalition spokesman David Baldinger believes that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has a tactical incentive to back some form of property tax reform in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf’s 2018 re-election may depend on it as he is likely to be challenged by Republicans who back the tax reform cause.
In a recent article by the Reading Eagle on December 12, 2016, “The Fight To Eliminate School Property Taxes will Resume in 2017,” Baldinger stated the following, “I have been at this for 12 years now, and I’ve never been as encouraged as I am right now.” I hold the same sentiment.
In my most humble (not political) opinion, the times, they are a-changing! The world of politics is far from perfect and as many recently discovered and even farther from predictable. It would be easy to say that homeowners will get more of the same and nothing will change but that would be too predictable an outcome this time.
So what changes if property taxes go away? Lots! Berks County has one of the highest property tax rates in the country let alone Pennsylvania. If Pennsylvania gets the tax abatement antidote, Berks may benefit more than any other county. I assess that property values could rise as much as 20% almost overnight. It is all about affordability. Every time a mortgage payment is reduced $4 per month it creates a $1,000 value. If you remove property taxes on a home with $400 per month in property taxes value in the form of affordability in the form of mortgage lending qualification increases $100,000!!!
Berks County has historically low home inventory right now. Add affordability in the form of lower property taxes and sprinkle economic improvement in the form of more good jobs and viola, real estate paradise right here in Berks County!
Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away and maybe not. It is the holiday season and hope springs eternal. Here's to hoping the people we voted for have the same holiday spirit that lasts all year long! Or at least until it is time to vote for property tax reform in Pennsylvania.
Knowledge is Power!
Jeffrey C. Hogue