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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20130&cosponId=15059
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MEMORANDUM

Posted: August 11, 2014 09:03 AM
From: Representative John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: Significant Property Tax Relief for Low Income Seniors via Cigarette Tax
 
Dear Colleagues –
 
In the near future, I will introduce legislation proposing an 80 cents per pack cigarette tax to fund significant school property tax relief for low-income seniors.  Utilizing the existing Property Tax Rent Rebate program infrastructure, seniors 65 and older with an annual income of $35,000 or less and residing outside a city of the first class would be eligible for substantial additional property tax relief.  The tax would be assessed in 66 of the 67 counties of Pennsylvania; all except those containing a city of the first class.    
 
Under this legislation, approximately $382 million would be collected from the new cigarette tax.  Using 2012 numbers (the most recent available,) this would be enough to provide eligible seniors with an approximate 82% total reduction in property taxes.  Thus, a senior with a $3500 tax bill would receive a total refund of $2870. (This number includes both the new cigarette tax money and the existing PTRR program funded via the lottery.)
 
Personally, I would prefer to see a broad based approach to tackle the property tax issue for all Pennsylvanians.  However, until that time comes, I am advancing this proposal in an attempt to provide relief directly to low income seniors.   
 
On July 2, 2014, the House passed legislation enacting a $2/pack cigarette tax to fund Philadelphia schools by a vote of 119-80.  Advocates for this proposal point to a funding crisis in the School District of Philadelphia.  In my view, there is another statewide crisis that gets significantly less attention – seniors being evicted from their life-long homes by a tax that does not take into account their ability to pay.  I encourage your support for this initiative and ask for your cosponsorship.