Op-Ed: Voters to Decide Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Expand Homestead Exclusion

An Op-Ed by Senator Joe Scarnati

Increasing and burdensome property taxes are one of the top concerns that constituents are continually voicing to me.  No family, senior or hardworking Pennsylvania resident should live with the fear of losing their home because they cannot afford to pay their property taxes.

On November 7, Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to vote on a measure to change residential school property taxes through the homestead exemption.

The legislation providing the voter referendum was approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions, as required by the state constitution.

Currently, local taxing authorities can exclude from taxation up to 50 percent of the median assessed value of homestead (owner-occupied) property within the taxing district. The constitutional amendment would expand it to 100 percent for property owners who apply.

The question which will appear on the ballot states:

“Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

I plan on supporting this upcoming ballot question to change to our state constitution. Should the measure pass, we will be able to follow up with legislation to provide the revenue necessary to eliminate school property taxes on primary homes.

This constitutional amendment takes a necessary step forward towards tackling the larger property tax issue.  Property tax elimination is not something that can happen overnight.  However, this constitutional amendment takes a meaningful step forward to help offer security to homeowners across our state.