Martin Proposes Reforms to Property Tax Collection System

HARRISBURG – Senator Scott Martin (R-13) announced legislation today that would give counties, municipalities and school districts more flexibility in the collection of property taxes.

Martin’s bill would give local governing bodies the option to eliminate the position of Tax Collector and allow counties and municipalities to have the County Treasurer administrate property tax collection.  It would also permit school districts to collect their own property taxes without having to enter into any special costly agreements. The measure would allow many local governing bodies to avoid a duplication of services and cut through layers of red tape that only serve to increase costs to taxpayers, Martin said. 

“Government should always strive to modernize and improve its operations,” Martin said. “My legislation is designed to help local governments move into the 21st Century and utilize the most efficient and effective means of collecting property taxes in order reduce costs to taxpayers.”

The legislation would not mandate the elimination of the Tax Collector in any county, municipality or school district. It would only offer governing bodies the option to eliminate the position if those entities believe they can collect property taxes more efficiently and effectively.

In current practice, County Treasurers are authorized to collect property taxes for municipalities and school districts can collect their own, only after navigating archaic red tape that is also costly.

Current restrictions on the use of County Treasurers for tax collection services lead many municipalities to seek out candidates to run for the office and resign immediately after getting elected to create a vacancy. The alternative is risking an unqualified individual being elected to the office and creating confusion and unnecessary costs to taxpayers, Martin said.

That was the case in East Lampeter Township in Lancaster County when a write-in candidate won the office in 2013 with one vote.  As of March 2017, more than $90,000 was owed to the county from 2016 tax collections. $40,000 is still owed to taxpayers for double payments resulting from incorrect information and unauthorized property tax bills, and dozens of other taxpayers had to fight to avoid losing their property based on two different tax bills being sent out.

Similar problems arose in Manheim Township School District when a new Tax Collector was elected in 2013. The district alleges that the individual never took any steps to collect school district taxes, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost legal fees to address a resulting lawsuit, even though the school district has been collecting their own property taxes for over 20-plus years.

“We have seen several unfortunate cases in which unnecessary layers of bureaucracy have created confusion and increased costs for taxpayers,” Martin said. “We need to empower local governing bodies to find ways to cut through the red tape and deliver services like tax collection without unnecessary costs or headaches for taxpayers.”

CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

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