Taxes

Matt Rourke / AP

State Representative Mark Mustio (R-44) of Allegheny County is fronting a charge to repeal Philadelphia's soda tax, and prevent similar actions from taking place elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania state government is heading into the final month of its fiscal year with stable tax collections as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature prepare to assemble an election-year budget.

The Department of Revenue reported Friday that collections through 11 months for the state's main operating account were $31.5 billion, or about $121 million above estimate.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land recently released its annual ranking of 100 city park systems in the country. This year, Pittsburgh's ranks 23rd -- a 16 place jump from last year.

The rankings are based on four primary factors: park access, meaning the amount of residents living within a ten-minute walk of a park; park acreage, the median size of city parks and total city area designated to parks; park amenities, such as restrooms, water features and dog parks; and park investment, meaning the amount of spending per resident on parks.

Matt Rourke / AP

Opponents of Philadelphia’s controversial sweetened beverage tax, stymied so far in their efforts to defeat the levy in court, are getting some support in the state legislature.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A bipartisan group of state senators is plotting another attempt at legislation that has become something of a white whale in Pennsylvania — overhauling the property tax system.

They’re reviving a bill that failed to pass the chamber by a single vote in 2015.

Pennsylvania’s property taxes largely pay for public schools, as well as local government expenses.

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A policy proposal from the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center aims to cover tuition and fees for eligible recent high school graduates who attend community college or a state university.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The United States Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In 2016, the city's Affordable Housing Task Force concluded Pittsburgh had a shortage of at least 15,000 low income units. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The federal tax overhaul bill signed into law by President Donald Trump last week caps the allowable local and state tax deduction at $10,000. So a lot of people in the region are lining up to pre-pay their property taxes to maximize the deduction they take in 2017.

While Allegheny County has accepted pre-payment of real estate taxes for years, usually 10 or 12 people show up, said Kevin Fischer, deputy treasurer for Allegheny County.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania taxpayers hoping to avoid higher rates next year by paying before 2017 ends appear to be out of luck.

Experts say a 1945 state law prevents such prepayment.

Taxpayers in other states are hoping to avoid higher taxes imposed as part of an overhaul signed last week by Republican President Donald Trump.

The new law limits to $10,000 how much people can deduct from their federal taxes for state and local tax payments.

Matt Rourke / AP

 Pennsylvania's independently elected fiscal watchdog says taxpayer money shouldn't be used to settle sexual harassment claims against elected officials.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

 

Many observers have found loopholes in the Republican tax bill passed by the Senate and House late Tuesday and into early Wednesday. Some provisions were even found to violate budget rules and were changed last minute. University of Pittsburgh law professor Tony Infanti found that one loophole could also leave targets of sexual misconduct vulnerable. Infanti discussed the provision with 90.5 WESA's An-Li Herring.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

After passing their respective tax overhaul bills, the U.S. House and Senate are trying to reconcile the differences in their legislation. While they do that, President Trump is making a renewed pitch to the American people about the importance of overhauling the tax code. Watch the speech live as it happens, and read President Trump's remarks with context and analysis from journalists across NPR.

Julie Jacobson / AP, file

Two hundred Pennsylvania municipalities have already opted out of hosting a new miniature casino.

The option is part of a gambling expansion lawmakers passed at the end of October, which was designed to raise revenue to help fix the commonwealth’s chronically underfunded budget.

Municipalities have until January to decide whether they want to play host to a mini-casino, and more are expected to opt out this month.

Ivanka Trump Says Tax Plan Addresses Needs Of US Families During PA Town Hall

Oct 24, 2017
Rich Shultz / AP

President Donald Trump's eldest daughter on Monday channeled her roles as a working mother, entrepreneur and senior adviser to the president to help sell the administration's tax plan, which she said is overdue to address the needs of the modern American family in an increasingly competitive global market.

Alex Brandon / AP

President Donald Trump took to the midstate Wednesday to pitch his tax plan to a cheering crowd of blue-collar workers and conservative Pennsylvania politicians.

He’s selling the proposal as one that would boost the middle class and small businesses—though many opponents say it would be a better deal for the rich. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The latest push to finish Pennsylvania’s late, unbalanced budget has melted down.

After several false starts, talks between House Democrats and Republicans dissolved into fights Wednesday over who’s at fault for the chamber’s inability to find consensus on a tax package.

Daveynin / Flickr

After extensive closed negotiations, a House committee moved a plan to close part of the $2.2 billion gap in Pennsylvania’s overdue budget Tuesday evening.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

GOP leaders say they’re optimistic they’ll have some kind of budget framework to present to members this week.

The House and Senate are both scheduled to convene Monday.

The potential deal comes after a week of closed negotiations between chamber leaders, as well as at least one rare in-person meeting with Governor Tom Wolf.

It’s unclear when or if major votes will happen.

But in a memo sent to GOP members, House Leader Dave Reed said it “might be a good idea to pack for a long week.”

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

State House Democrats and a handful of Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to bring a natural gas severance tax up for a vote.

The group briefly tried to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday, but had to drop the effort because they were short on support.

The version of the severance tax under consideration has been sitting in the GOP-controlled House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since January.

The panel's leaders haven’t seemed inclined to act on it.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

The fight over how to fund Pennsylvania’s overdue budget is boiling down to just a few points of contention -- including whether to impose a new tax on natural gas drillers.

Pennsylvania's Ugly Budget Fight Gets Personal And Regional

Sep 18, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The feel-good bipartisan spirit that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf tried to instill last year in Pennsylvania's Capitol is gone, stomped to bits in an increasingly ugly budget stalemate.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he thinks fully legalizing medical and recreational marijuana could solve the state's growing budget problems.

hhm8 / Flickr

City leaders in McKeesport traced $1.4 million in unpaid taxes to a company that did business there over multiple years.

A tax collection audit firm discovered the loss, but declined to name the company responsible. In a statement Wednesday, Philadelphia-based eCollect Plus said the company is publicly traded and not local.

A partner at eCollect Plus, Michael Hill, said “a multitude” of other companies also owe unpaid taxes to McKeesport. It’s common for municipal tax revenues to go missing, usually due to inadvertent errors in tax reporting, according to Hill.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nearly seven months after Pittsburgh City Council voted to create a fund for affordable housing and neighborhood rehabilitation, it’s still not clear where the money will come from.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Republican majority leaders of Pennsylvania’s House and Senate say they’re determined to put together a budget without raising taxes.

That means making up this year’s $1.5 billion shortfall, plus accounting for a roughly $3 billion structural deficit.

To get it done, the final plan is likely to involve significant borrowing.

One option under consideration would involve using an asset as collateral to get a loan, which would be paid off over 25 years or so.

Zeevveez / Flickr

A contentious bill to prohibit municipalities from taxing or banning plastic bags has passed the legislature, and now faces a potential veto at the hands of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Several manufacturers of the plastic used for disposable shopping bags are based around Pennsylvania, and employ over a thousand people. The Republican sponsors of the bill say that’s the main reason they’re supporting it.

Jay LaPrete / AP

Time is running out for the millions of Pennsylvania eligible for a delinquent tax amnesty program being offered by the state.

The state legislature created the program as part of the 2016-17 budget with the expectation of collecting an additional $100 million in back taxes.  That’s on top of the roughly $600 million in back taxes collected each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Under the program, the state will waive the 5 percent penalty and half of the interest.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

A telecom technician by trade, Schuylkill County homeowner Ron Boltz is not your typical suit-and-tie Harrisburg lobbyist.

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

When attorney Joe Froetschel commutes to work on his bicycle, he thinks about how the city operations work and where the money comes from. As he rides through Oakland,  he notices hospitals like UPMC and University of Pittsburgh buildings that dot the neighborhood. He's also surrounded by churches and charities and the Carnegie museums.

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