Public Hearing Highlights Need for Property Tax Collection Reform

HARRISBURG – Local government representatives and school business officials discussed alternatives to the current system of collecting property taxes during a hearing of the Senate Local Government Committee today.

Testifiers offered contrasting views of Senate Bill 1099, legislation introduced by Acting Committee Chair Senator Scott Martin (R-13) that would give counties, municipalities and school districts more flexibility to utilize reliable, efficient alternatives for property tax collection – including allowing county Treasurers to collect property taxes on behalf of a municipality.

“I firmly believe that schools and municipalities should be able to use whatever method of property tax collection is most efficient and convenient for the taxpayers,” Martin said. “Partnerships between counties and municipalities have been tremendously successful in Lancaster County, where more than two-thirds of municipalities utilize the County Treasurer for property tax collection. This legislation takes the next step by allowing every local government entity to do what is best for taxpayers based on their own unique needs and circumstances.”

County and school business officials shared numerous examples of unqualified elected local tax collectors who failed to perform the duties of the job. Inefficient or negligent tax collectors have led to homeowners facing incorrect tax bills, overpayments and tax sales based on incorrect information, testifiers said.

“We have seen examples where tax collectors have kept shoddy records and have reported taxpayers to the county tax claims bureau as delinquent when they had paid their taxes in full and on time and could provide proof that they had done so,” said Elam Herr, Assistant Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. “These examples demonstrate that there is a need for alternatives to the elected tax collector.”

Several municipal tax collectors who testified during the hearing expressed concerns that Senate Bill 1099 would undercut the efforts of tax collectors who are performing the job efficiently and effectively.

Martin emphasized that his bill would only offer schools and local governments the option to utilize County Treasurers. Schools and municipalities would not be mandated to make changes, and even if they select that option, they would still be free to return to the old system at any time if they elect to do so.

“Sometimes having a local tax collector will be the best option for a community, but in other instances, it can create a whole host of problems,” Martin said. “Giving schools and municipalities more options to collect taxes will help each local government entity determine the best way to meet the needs of that individual community.”


CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

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