Property Tax Rebates

March 7, 2002

Pennsylvania Think Tank Proposes Givebacks For Certain Homeowners

Inman News Features

A property tax "circuit breaker" proposed today by Harrisburg, Pa.-based research and policy institute Keystone Research Center would stabilize school funding and reduce property taxes for those least able to pay, according to the center.

One variation of the plan would give homeowners state rebates if their local property taxes exceeded 3.5 percent of their annual income. The rebates would be targeted at households with incomes of $50,000 or less and would be capped at $500.

This option would result in average rebates of $415 for 1.62 million middle-class and low-income households, according to the center.

The proposal's authors, Stephen Herzenberg, an economist and executive director of the center, and Eileen Healy McNulty, former Pennsylvania secretary of revenue, the circuit breaker proposal would help remedy the challenge of maintaining quality schools.

"Over the last decade, school districts with lower property values have faced a dilemma," said McNulty. "If school districts try to maintain affordable property tax rates, they can't raise enough money to maintain quality schools. If districts raise taxes to improve quality they may unduly burden some residents. Using state dollars to deliver targeted property tax relief will make it easier to provide local revenues for schools in an equitable way."

According to the center, nine states have property tax rebate programs that aren?t limited to senior citizens. Michigan combines a property tax circuit breaker with a recent shift to state funding of schools.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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