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Homestead Exclusion Amendment Ballot Question

“Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property with a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law.”This amendment modifies the constitutional requirement that all commercial property and homes be treated the same and it would be a first step in any effort to eliminate property taxation for homeowners altogether. The amendment does not by itself eliminate property taxes, it merely authorizes the House of Representatives to enact implementing legislation giving local taxing authorities — county, municipal and/or school — the option to do so. Revenue from any property taxes eliminated in this manner must be made up through other means. Any alternative tax scheme requiring increases in income taxes and/or sales taxes would necessarily benefit senior citizens living on fixed incomes whose earning days are behind them while putting much more of the tax burden on young working families and in the case of a sales tax increase, on the poor.Proponents say the amendment would the first step in changing the system so that an inability to pay property taxes could never again result in the loss of homes that people have worked their whole lives to pay for. Opponents say that the amendment allows taxing authorities to replace a stable tax source (property) with unstable ones (income and sales taxes) that fluctuate with the economy and could be subject to legislative manipulation. Additionally, opponents fear that allowing districts to eliminate property taxation could lead to a loss of local control of education and to a significantly diminishing commitment to public education.
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