PAR presents survey results at House hearing on property tax reform

By Kim Shindle | May 22, 2012 | 3 min. read

A majority of Pennsylvanians believe that reforming and reducing property taxes should be a priority of the state legislature, according to a survey conducted by Keystone Analytics, a wholly owned subsidiary of the PA Association of Realtors®.

“Fifty-nine percent of Pennsylvania voters believe property taxes are either in part or wholly a state issue,” said Greg Herb, PAR’s Legislative chair and a past PAR president. Herb presented the results of the survey during a House Finance Committee hearing on House Bill 1776 yesterday.

Keystone Analytics polled 500 voters in Pennsylvania, 87 percent of whom are homeowners, on May 13-14. When asked to rank a list of current state legislative priorities, 23 percent of Pennsylvanians picked reforming and reducing property taxes over balancing the state budget, improving roads and bridges, and dealing with illegal immigration.

PAR currently does not support or oppose any property tax reform proposals under consideration by the General Assembly.  “The association conducted a survey to gain a better understanding of Pennsylvanian’s views on property tax reform,” Herb told the House Finance Committee. “PAR will continue to perform extensive research on the issue of property tax reform and the implications on the real estate industry. We look forward to working with members of the state legislature to find a plan that best meets the needs of Pennsylvania homeowners and encourages homeownership in future generations.”

It is expected the PAR’s Legislative Committee and Public Policy and Political Advocacy Coordinating Committee will discuss property tax reform during PAR’s Spring Business Meetings June 4-6 in Harrisburg.

Based on the survey, it appears that property tax reform is on the minds of many Pennsylvanians. The survey showed that 57 percent of homeowners believe their property taxes are too high. Nearly 40 percent have seen an increase of more than $50 in their total property tax bill in the last year and more than 50 percent say it has contributed to their families’ financial strain.

Those surveyed were asked to comment regarding some recent property tax reform proposals. Sixty-two percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed believe that increasing the sales tax by 1 percent and broadening the tax base would be a favorable alternative to funding public schools if the schools would receive the same amount of revenue, regardless of the tax source.

Of those surveyed, 56 percent don’t believe that giving local governments the option of reducing property taxes by levying a sales tax and a use and occupancy tax, in addition to all other state and local taxes, is a viable solution.

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