May. 04, 2015

HARRISBURG – Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) today introduced legislation (House Bill 1115) that would allow voters to consider a constitutional amendment to eliminate all property taxes in Pennsylvania within seven years.

Diamond, who is also co-sponsoring legislation that would offer more immediate property tax relief, said that the ultimate goal of property tax reform should be complete elimination.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution affirms the right of citizens to acquire, possess and defend property,” said Diamond. “We wouldn’t say that you lose your freedom of speech or religion because you cannot afford high taxes, but that’s exactly what government has been saying to property owners: Pay up, or you lose your right to keep your land. That’s wrong, plain and simple.”

House Bill 1115 would establish a voter referendum to completely eliminate property taxes by July 1, 2022. Before voters could weigh in, two separate sessions of the General Assembly would have to pass Diamond’s measure.

Diamond also noted that a seven-year timeline would allow the Legislature to have sufficient time to authorize new funding methods to replace the revenue property taxes currently generate.

“The General Assembly is populated with some of the brightest, most talented and creative people in Pennsylvania. I believe we could get this done in fewer than seven years if we put our minds to it,” said Diamond. “Putting the question on the ballot and letting the people decide is the just the first step of the journey.”

In the meantime, Diamond continues to support House Bill 860, which would offer property tax relief in the near term. He does so because property tax relief is something that cannot wait.

That legislation would cut property taxes an average of 50 percent for most homeowners, replacing the revenue with increases to the state sales and income tax rates. On the surface, the proposal might sound similar to one offered by Gov. Tom Wolf, but Diamond said that it differs in significant ways.

“For every dollar Tom Wolf’s plan raises in taxes, it only offers 30 cents in tax relief,” said Diamond. “By contrast, House Bill 860 is a dollar-for-dollar swap. Every dollar raised from new sales and income taxes under the plan that I back would go directly to property tax reduction. Wolf’s plan would take that money and massively increase state spending, something that would result in thousands of dollars in new taxes annually for Pennsylvania families. That isn’t tax relief. That’s bait and switch.”

Diamond also is a co-sponsor of House Bill 76, the Property Tax Elimination Act.
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Representative Russ Diamond
102nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ryan Travis, 717.260.6335