PEL Report – Local Taxation Study

Pennsylvania Municipal League and Pennsylvania Economy League Present New Study:
It’s Not 1965 Anymore — State Tax Laws Fail to Meet Municipal Revenue Needs

The Pennsylvania Municipal League and Pennsylvania Economy League have published a new study that demonstrates how the current local taxation structure developed in 1965 does not meet today’s municipal revenue needs.

This partnership and publication is in response to The League’s Strategic Plan that called for an updated report on Pennsylvania’s local taxation structure. Pennsylvania’s municipal tax authorizations have failed to keep pace with modern realities, and municipalities need more flexible revenue options just to keep the lights on.

Much has changed in the landscape of local government since 1965 – population shifts, aging housing stock in older core communities, increased cost of municipal services, increases in tax-exempt properties receiving services.

Currently, new tools are only available to communities that have become fiscally distressed. Municipalities need access to these proven tools before fiscal distress sets in. Tools should be optional to allow each community to decide the best mix based on the make-up of the community such as: increased Local Services Tax, flexibility to increase the Earned Income Tax, Payroll Tax, county or regional Sales Tax, Drink Tax, regular reassessment.

Case studies for this report include:  Cities of Altoona, Bradford, Hermitage, Lancaster, Lock Haven, Pittston; Upper Chichester Township and Indiana Borough.