Add Your ‘Two Cents’ to Property Tax Independence Debate

By Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks)

People are amazed when I tell them that something as seemingly small and insignificant as a penny could help to completely replace school district property taxes in Pennsylvania.  However, if this is to happen, it will be because taxpayers across Pennsylvania shared their “two cents” on the issue.  Let me explain.

I recently unveiled the Property Tax Independence Act at a Capitol news conference in Harrisburg.  The legislation – House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76 – would completely replace local school district property taxes with a combination of state revenue sources.

For example, under the plan, when you spend $1, or 100 cents, at a retail store in Pennsylvania, you would have to pay an additional one penny through the state sales tax.  If you have a job, you would have to pay approximately one penny (well, actually 1.27 cents) more through the state Personal Income Tax for every 100 cents you earn.

The plan also would use existing revenues from legalized gaming in Pennsylvania and would close some special interest loopholes in the sales tax.  Together, all of these revenues would be used to replace on a dollar-for-dollar basis the funding that schools currently receive from local school district property taxes.

We know the plan will work because the Independent Fiscal Office, a non-partisan government agency, conducted a thorough analysis and provided us with the information we needed to craft the legislation.

The concept is so simple and straightforward, many homeowners wonder why it is taking so long to make its way through the state Legislature.

Unfortunately, there are several high-powered special interest groups that oppose the legislation.  Meanwhile, homeowners and taxpayers don’t have a paid lobbyist in Harrisburg.

Despite these obstacles, I’m certain the Property Tax Independence Act can be passed into law.

While I introduced the Property Tax Independence Act, it is by no means “my” legislation.  It is the taxpayers’ legislation, drafted with the input of a coalition of 76 taxpayer advocacy groups scattered across the Commonwealth.  It is grassroots legislation.

If this bill makes it into law, it will be because Pennsylvanians demanded it.

If you support this plan to use something as simple as a penny to replace school district property taxes, you need to add your “two cents” to the public conversation.  Contact your state representative and senator.  Engage in a conversation through your local newspaper’s website and editorial page.  Post on your state legislators’ Facebook pages.

My colleagues and I who embrace this idea will continue our work on the inside.  However, an engaged and outraged public may be the only power capable of forcing a majority of lawmakers to do what is right.  The good news is we have seen it work before. 

Rep. Jim Cox is the prime sponsor of the House version of the Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 76).

Representative Jim Cox
129th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Daniel Massing
717.772.9845 /
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