Own a home in PA? Here's the referendum that could lead to some tax relief


Voters hitting the polls tomorrow will be greeted with a question that could have an impact on any one that owns a home.

The polling locations in most areas are expected to see light turn out tomorrow, probably in the neighborhood of about 15 to 25 percent. But the property tax referendum that will appear to those voters could be a crucial next step towards changing the tax structure, affecting anyone who pays taxes on a house.

If passed, the referendum would take off the cap that currently exists for all homestead and farmstead properties. Right now, the state constitution only grants taxing entities the ability to give 50% of the median assessed home value in the district, putting it towards tax relief. This amendment would change that number to 100%. Here is the key, voting ‘yes’ tomorrow does not give homeowners any immediate tax relief. The general assembly would have to pass enacting legislation that would change the tax structure, so school districts don't lose billions of dollars in funding. For now, this change to the state constitution is just another step in the process.

This change would only apply to people's primary residence. Commercial, rental or vacation properties are not eligible for homestead relief if this does pass tomorrow, and the general assembly puts together a tax plan to fund the change.

The final decision about how much relief is granted would still be up to the local governments.

In the end another tax or funding mechanism would have to take its place. Many people would like to see an expanded sales or income tax in place of property taxes, so the burden doesn't fall mostly on homeowners in the state.

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