Pa. voters could take step toward property tax elimination Tuesday

The feet of a woman at in a voting booth

(Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next Tuesday, they’ll have a rare opportunity to vote to change the state constitution.

They’ll decide via ballot measure whether to make property tax elimination an option.

However, it would only be the first step in a long process.

Property tax rates largely depend on how much school districts and local governments decide to exempt from taxation.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Right now, state law lets them exclude up to 50 percent of an area’s median home value.

The ballot measure would increase that cap to 100 percent — so jurisdictions could opt to totally eliminate property taxes.

But it’s not quite that simple.

The elimination can’t happen until there’s a replacement source of revenue — either from the state or local level.

Republican Representative David Maloney of Berks County, who sponsored the referendum measure, noted there’s still no consensus in that area.

“We need to address this piece first,” he insisted. “Once we address this by letting the people decide, then we can move forward with many different options as to how we make it work.”

Sales and income tax hikes are generally among the options raised to replace property tax revenue.

Maloney said he hopes the issue will get more concerted attention if the ballot measure passes.

“I can’t see how and why we would not have more of an intensity to get this over the finish line,” he said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal