Better Choices Coalition Releases 19 Ideas to Make Pa.'s Tax System Fairer

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Better Choices Coalition Releases 19 Ideas to Make Pa.’s Tax System Fairer

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 18, 2015) – The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition released today a list of 19 recommendations to make Pennsylvania’s tax system fairer. State and local taxes require low- and middle-income workers to pay more of their income in taxes than the highest-income Pennsylvanians, making it hard to raise sufficient funds for public schools, higher education, health care and other vital services.

“A recent study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy named Pennsylvania the sixth most unfair state and local tax system for low- to moderate-income families. The recommendations we are making today not only raise sustainable revenue for critical services like education and health care, but also make our tax system fairer for all Pennsylvanians,” said Michael Wood, research director at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a member of the Better Choices Coalition. “Tax fairness can be achieved by raising some existing taxes, creating some new taxes, and providing targeted tax reductions for the low-income and the elderly. Our recommendations do that.”

The coalition’s push for tax fairness aligns with Gov. Tom Wolf’s Fresh Start campaign plan, which called for “income tax fairness for the middle-class” and “making sure all corporations doing business in Pennsylvania pay their fair share of taxes.”

The coalition’s recommendations include:

  • Permanently closing most corporate tax loopholes by enacting combined reporting.
  • Adopting a severance tax comparable to that imposed in West Virginia.
  • Fixing the bank tax.
  • Maintaining the sales tax exemption for all food items.
  • Increasing the value of the Senior Citizen Property Tax Rent Rebate Program.

"Nearly 75% of Pennsylvania's corporations pay a smaller percentage in taxes than many of our members," JoAnne Sessa, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 668, said. "Gov. Wolf and the state legislature can close corporate loopholes and ensure everyone in Pennsylvania pays their fair share."

The Better Choices Coalition is a group of 35 organizations committed to appropriate funding for education, health care and services to vulnerable Pennsylvanians and to investing in Pennsylvania’s families as a path to renewed prosperity.

The coalition’s other 14 recommendations are:

  •  Revising laws to allow assessment of local property taxes on oil and gas reserves.
  •  Extending the Marketplace Fairness Act to downloadable music.
  •  Limiting the sales tax vendor discount.
  • Adopting a graduated tax rate, which would require a constitutional amendment.
  • Adopting a personal exemption in the state income tax for individuals and couples.
  • Enacting an alternative minimum corporate tax.
  • Adopting a wealth tax on stocks and other investments.
  •  Imposing a higher tax on income from wealth, but not from work.
  • Expanding the Tax Forgiveness Program.
  • Adding a refundable earned income tax credit to the state’s personal income tax, based on a percentage of the federal EITC.
  • Creating a property tax rebate program for working people.
  • Giving low-income residents of rural areas a small tax credit to help offset higher gas taxes.
  • Considering a financial transactions tax.
  • Applying the cigarette tax to smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

For more information on the recommendations, visit http://betterchoicesforpa.com/.