Property Taxes

Must Reads: State of The Union, Stimulus and Austerity Economics PA Style

A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.

Tonight President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress. We are expecting the President to recommend an extension through the end of 2012 of extended unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax credit. It looks as though a major theme in the address — besides the catch phrase “built to last” — will be conventional policies aimed at reducing inequality, such as increased spending/tax credits for education and training.

Education and training are important and fruitful means of reducing inequality, but they fall well short of what's needed to reduce the degree of inequality we now face.  A more forceful step in the direction of reducing inequality would include raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to form and join unions. We don't expect to hear the President call for either of those changes.

The President will propose paying for his new initiatives with higher taxes on wealthy households. As with education and training, restoring some sense of fairness to the tax code is a laudable goal but longer-lasting reductions in inequality will only come from policies that allow the pre-tax wages of more Americans to rise as the size and wealth of our economy grows.

Manufacturing, energy, job training and middle-class growth will be the cornerstones of President Barack Obama's speech tonight as he takes to the nation's grandest political stage for the annual address on the state of the union, according to senior advisers.

PA Job Growth in 2011 and More Layoffs, Higher Property Taxes in 2012

A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released data on employment and unemployment in December. Compared to the summer months, the top line numbers were good, with unemployment falling three-tenths of one percent to 7.6% (U.S. rate is 8.5%).

Nonfarm jobs were up 6,500, which is a pretty good number (we need to average 8,000 new jobs a month to get back to full employment in three years). Service-sector job growth in December was atrocious; the sector added just 300 jobs. Most of the month’s job growth was in durable goods, with manufacturing adding 2,600 jobs, construction adding 3,000 and mining adding another 600.

Those 3,000 construction jobs don't represent a sudden resurgence of the construction industry. As most of you are happily aware, December was quite warm; this meant construction activity in the month was above historical averages which shows up as job growth in the final numbers. The actual trend in construction employment is at best no or very slow growth.

The bottom line is that in the last 12 months, Pennsylvania added 59,200 jobs. That's fewer jobs than were added from December 2009 to December 2010 (63,900). The primary reason Pennsylvania added fewer jobs in 2011 than it did in 2010 is the loss of 19,800 jobs in the public sector.

Ann Belser at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more on the job numbers.

Yes, Governor, Texas Levies Property Taxes

A blog post from Michael Wood, originally published on Third and State.

The Patriot-News reports that Governor Corbett, speaking to a meeting of township commissioners Monday, said: “Texas doesn’t have a personal income tax. Texas doesn’t have a property tax. So when we’re talking about taxes, don’t you think we ought to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges?"

Guv sez: Drop Dead, Mayor sez: Keep smilin'

Sub-Headline: Sorry, Can’t Really Sugarcoat This Stuff Folks.

There’s no doubt that Philly’s in a heap of trouble from budgets being torturously made, as we speak, in Washington, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. It seems we’re assured of two years of bad news, first from service cuts, then from tax increases on working people and homeowners. With a little bit of bad luck we could face a mix of both. The moral? We’d better organize ourselves a lot better than we did in 2010 if we don’t want a third and fourth year helping of the same thing. And also, if you pass a corporate exec in the street, keep your hands in your pockets.

Who wants to help out homeowners unfairly assessed?

Recently individual homeowners have fought against against increasing assessments even as the property market withers and jobs are lost, and fixed incomes don't keep up. Now,with the BRT back and badder then ever, there is an idea that a lawsuit may be needed to fix our valuation system. This was sent to me, and I wanted to share it with the site.

When it Comes to Property Taxes… Philly Deserves Better

As a tax-paying Philadelphian, you have a right to know:

The way the City calculates property taxes is inequitable, inaccurate and illegal.
• Inequitable -- studies by independent experts show that lower-valued properties are assessed at much higher tax rates than more valuable properties. Consequently, residents in struggling neighborhoods pay higher property taxes than they should, while residents in affluent neighborhoods pay less than their fair share. WHO pays more? Largely minority property owners.

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Why It Matters: property taxes and school funding

Sunday’s Inquirer laid out one of the best reasons for why reform in property taxes has to go hand in hand with school funding.

In a study of more than 500,000 tax records, the Inquirer reports that “wildly disparate property tax rates are widening the economic divide between have and have not towns.”

Consider this:

For instance, in some economically distressed parts of eastern Delaware County, such as the six towns of the William Penn School District, the tax rates are nearly six times higher than those in West Conshohocken, a Montgomery County borough jam-packed with office towers. Just five years ago, the rates were 31/2 times higher.

Those poorer communities also tend to have lower-achieving students and far fewer resources than wealthy neighbors. The William Penn district - composed of Aldan, Colwyn, Darby Borough, East Lansdowne, Lansdowne and Yeadon - spends $12,701 per pupil. West Conshohocken is in the Upper Merion district, which spends $18,158.

Between 2002 and 2007 in poorer towns in the suburban counties, increases in millages - the taxes per $1,000 of assessed property value - were double those in affluent communities.

So the famous line touted by Philadelphia Student Union organizers in 2001 during the state takeover was that the quality of a child’s school system shouldn’t have to depend on their zip code. But that is indeed what happens here.

Anne Dicker Makes a Bid to Buy Fumo Mansion

As many of you have heard, State Senator Vincent Fumo recently put his Fairmount area mansion up for sale. The asking price is a whopping $6.95 million dollars. According to the listing on Fox & Roach's website, the property has been "restored to it's original grandeur" with elevators on all 6 floors, a brick oven and spa, wine cellar, 7 fireplaces, 3 powder rooms, a large custom vault, and a state of the art security system.

However, the City of Philadelphia has the value of this famously opulent home listed at only $250,000. Accordingly, Fumo only pays $6,611 in property taxes--a tiny fraction of what he would owe if the building were taxed at its current sales price. On Thursday, in a vote that stunned reporters and drew widespread outrage, the BRT upheald the current listed value. The property will not be reassessed until 2009.

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