Before the Blair County commissioners are fully committed to reassessment, could we consider another alternative? And possibly save the taxpayers $3 million?
Why don't we go to an income tax instead of county and school property taxes?
Property taxes are an unfair burden on many homeowners. You purchase a home when you're earning an income, and you pay the taxes.
But when you retire, the taxes are still there, and increase yearly, sometimes pushing people out of their longtime homes.
And what about people who rent? Do they share in the school/county taxes? I'm sure they use the same services.
Many homes and properties are inherited. Because you have a large lot, or a larger home, does not mean you make a lot of money.
And when the value of my home goes up, nobody comes and hands me a check for the increase. But they sure will tax me on it. I won't see that cash until I sell, and for a person like me, I plan on living in my home until I'm gone.
The property tax burden feels like this: I bought a TV in 2012 for $500. The tax man shows up at my door in 2014 and says the same TV today costs $600, so I owe him the tax on the difference.
Another example would be if I earned $20,000 in 1980, having the IRS look at it and say "in today's dollars that equals $32,000. You now owe the IRS the tax on the additional $12,000."
Would this be fair?
An income tax would automatically increase as the population's income increased, or the number of people working went up. It would follow inflation. It would not need to be reassessed. You work, you pay tax. You retire, you stop paying tax.
The income tax collection processes are already in place in the townships and boroughs. They require very little maintenance.
If taxes need to go up, you change the percentage, and everyone's taxes go up instantly and evenly.
The taxpayer that earns more income pays more taxes. The employers collect the money for you and direct deposit into the county's coffers every month.
One person in the tax office could take care of everything, easily.
Some other big advantages would be that the county would avoid the possible 6,000 appeals, there would be no property tax sales, the constables would have fewer subpoenas to deliver, the courts wouldn't have to deal with taking someone's property away from them when they're down on their luck and can't pay the back taxes on their (and their family's) homes.
And maybe we wouldn't have homeowners not getting building permits because they're afraid their property values and taxes will go up.
The building inspector/codes officer should be a homeowner's friend, helping you do things right, not an adversary you're afraid to talk to.
So can we at least think about some alternatives?