Friday, March 12, 2010

Bob L's True and False quiz and my reactions

1. True or False: Over the past 50 years Pennsylvania lost nearly 1/3rd of its seats in the US Congress to faster growing states and is losing clout at the federal level.

True. But, I'm a tad more worried about the federal government growing it overall clout and less concerned with the share of clout that is for any one state. Smaller states have 'clout.' The number of seats in the US Senate does not change even if everyone moves out of the state.

2. True or False: Pennsylvania has an aging population because the state keeps losing our young people to other states; our retirees also leave, often because they can no longer afford Pennsylvania's school, county and municipal property taxes.
Part of the aging population problem is that senior citizens don't make many babies. And, another part of the problem is that we don't have lots of incoming imigrants. The lack of immigration into our neighborhoods might be a problem for some and a blessing for others.

We do have a problem with the retirees in that we don't make it easy for them to relocate. Many senior citizens are stuck in their present homes that served them well when they had a house full of kids. Seniors should have a much easier time being able to downsize. One of the big sticking points to keep people from moving to either larger or smaller living quarters is the deed transfer tax. Pay that a few times in each decade and lots of personal wealth vanishes.

3. True or False: Abolishing all three property taxes--school, county and municipal-- on primary residences would make Pennsylvania more attractive for young families to establish their homes here, and more attractive for retirees to move here or remain here.

This is STOP's (Bob Lowes) main mission, the elimination of all property taxes.

The attraction for home owners is obvious. But, that means a shift has to occur to income taxes and sales taxes and VAT taxes (on manufactured goods and services). Those other taxes are going to make the attraction ugly.

As a Geo-Libertarian, I rather like to tax real property and land so as to keep government small and accountable with local control.

4. True or False: Increasing our population would result in more new businesses, more customers for existing businesses and more jobs. Also an enlarged worker pool.

Increasing population means strains on schools too. If thousands move out of McKeesport and into Pine Richland, then the local money for local schools would have a balance.

5. True or False: Current homeowners would be more likely to improve their current homes if those improvements would NOT mean higher assessments and higher property taxes. And in investing in upgrading their homes would generate a sizable volume of economic activity.

Current homeowners are penalized greatly when they get building permits and do home fix ups. This is exactly what should NOT happen. The tax policy is messed up, for sure.

Present tax policies reward those for messing up their buildings. Hey, I've got a bad sidewalk, porch is falling down, a new roof is needed and the paint is peeling = lower taxes.

The solution I think makes more sense is to tax only the LAND and not the building. A land value tax means that those who let their property trun to blight pay the same as the neighbor on the same size plot of land in the same neighborhood who fixes up the house into a palace.

6. True or False: More individuals and families, including women and minority citizens, could afford to buy homes if there were no real estate (property taxes) on primary residences and no property tax escrow payments as part of a mortgage.

Well, the big hit is in the deed transfer tax. Annual property taxes are large, no doubt. However, to pony up an extra 5% at the time of closing for the deed transfer tax takes money out of the pocket for those who save up and try to make a downpayment.

Once there was no real estate taxes and no property taxes then there will be a lot of landlords that are able to land-bank properties. If grandma passes and the house sits vacant for 1 to 5 to 15 years -- who cares. No big deal. Don't turn the house to others who would like a good place to live.

Big developers would really make out and become rich in short time once there is no property tax on their holdings.

Apartment rents will go much higher too. Generally there could be a one house per one citizen property tax exemption. But that would not apply to an apartment building full of renters. Rents for young people would increase greatly. Same too for seniors.

7. True or False: The 8 Billion dollars currently held in Pennsylvania NON-interest-bearing, property tax escrow accounts as part of most mortgage obligations, would generate more economic activity and jobs if tax escrow accounts weren't required and instead the money was injected annually into the Pennsylvania economy.

Why not allow the property tax escrow account be interest bearing?

Lots of other tax shelters are hatched up for those with lawyers and accountants and money so as to not part with it to the government. And, the rich get richer. It is hard, if not impossible, to hide land. Taxing land is easy and fair as it can't be hidden. Cheating is harder if the tax is on land as opposed to income, transactions, or services rendered.

8. True or False: All this economic activity including more jobs occurring via the abolishment all property taxes on primary residences would generate additional tax revenue from EXISTING state income, local earned income, sales and use, mercantile, gasoline and other currently collected taxes.

The economic boom is suspect. When a tax shift occurs, it is generally good for some and bad for others.

9. True or False: Deteriorating tax bases in many of our city, suburban and rural communities would begin to be reversed with this increased economic activity described above meaning more services and a better quality of life.

10. True or False: Collecting 100% of the base year assessed valuation taxes (the year the law is passed) plus annual cost of living escalators, and continuing to receive property taxes from a growing commercial and industrial sector, would generate more net revenue than the current costly-to-collect-and-enforce, corrupt property tax system--from which taxing bodies collect only from 70 to 90% of what is billed.

11. True or False: Fewer properties would be abandoned.

12. True or False: Since 3/4ths to 4/5ths of all properties in the state would no longer be assessed or reassessed, the savings to counties (and ultimately the taxpayers) would run into the tens of millions of dollars each year. The size and cost of government would be cut, and homeowners would no longer be required to fight to protect their homes from inaccurate property assessments and excessive property taxes.

Summary: Pennsylvania's economy and that of many of her counties, school districts and municipalities needs a major boost. A proven, fiscally-viable plan that cuts the size of government, boosts the economy, revives our municipalities and counties, generates more net tax revenue, creates thousands of private sector jobs, and makes our state much more attractive for individuals and families to want to live in without any added bureaucracy...deserves discussion and hearings.

Why are our legislators afraid of this plan? Why won't they even allow it to be discussed in committee...or presented at hearings? Ask them to be specific with the responses. Their silence so far has been deafening. --Bob Logue, STOP Primary residence protection plan. Learn more at hit on the STOP page. My e-mail is My mailing address is Bob Logue, Box 306, Fairbank, PA 15435-0306

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