Along with electing a number of judges Tuesday night, Pennsylvania voters agreed to a ballot measure that will amend the constitution to let municipalities stop charging property taxes.
It’s a step forward in an ongoing fight to lower the commonwealth’s controversial, high property tax rates.
But it’s not likely to have a practical impact anytime soon.
Under previous constitutional language, local governments could only exempt up to 50 percent of their median home value from property taxes.
Now, they can technically exempt all homeowners.
But Terry Madonna, a political analyst from Franklin and Marshall College, noted that can’t happen until there’s a new source of revenue — and that involves action from the legislature.
“If the legislature moves, it would have to be a fairly complex piece of legislation that would provide for what the school boards would use to substitute for the loss of the property taxes,” Madonna said.
There’s currently no consensus on what that bill would look like.
Other revenue options include sales and income taxes at the local level.
Madonna noted, those taxes wouldn’t affect all communities in the same way.
“If they were to raise the earned income tax or somehow adjust that, that could lead to a lot more difficulty for low-income residents,” he said.
He also said the revenue sales and income taxes produced would be less stable than property taxes.