Real estate taxes are second best in fairness
To the editor:
There are two things in life that are certain, death and taxes. Unfortunately, most taxes are regressive, unfair taxes that impact harder on low and moderate income persons. A tax on sales is just one of too many regressive taxes. A per capita tax is another, and occupational and earned income taxes hit only workers, not the wealthy.
The federal graduated personal income tax, without any tax credits, deduction, exemptions or other loopholes, is the fairest tax because it is based only on the taxpayer’s ability to pay, and it is collected very efficiently and usually in small payments.
Believe it or not, real estate taxes are also fair because they, too, are based on the ability to pay, but they are costly to collect and mostly in large, lump-sum payments. Yes, renters also pay property taxes as part of their monthly lease payments to landlords.
Low income persons tend to rent or own small properties. Middle income persons rent or own properties that are somewhat bigger in size, and upper income person usually rent or own much larger properties.
Because real estate property taxes are based on the size of a property and the size of its permanent structures, in essence, they are based on the person’s ability to pay. Poor people can’t afford to rent or own mansions, and rich people don’t want cracker boxes.
Pennsylvania’s flat personal income tax, even though it is based on income and easily collected, is the third fairest tax because it is regressive.
Pennsylvania needs to pass a constitutional amendment that permits the three levels of government and public school districts to levy a graduated personal income tax in order to eliminate occupational and earned income taxes on workers, per capita taxes on citizens and transfer of title to and property taxes on real estate.
Our neighboring states already have a graduated personal income tax; and until Pennsylvania legalizes that form of taxation, real estate property taxes will be needed because they are still the second best in fairness.
David L. Faust