Voters Will Decide On Proposed Constitutional Amendment To Expand Homestead Exclusion
With the November 7th election fast-approaching, I wanted to share
some information regarding the proposed constitutional amendment on property
taxes that will appear on the ballot. Currently, the state Constitution allows
up to “one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property within
the taxing district” to be exempt from taxation. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters
will be asked whether the homestead exclusion should be expanded.
The question 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
If approved, it would permit the General Assembly to pass a law authorizing
local taxing authorities to increase the amount of assessed value of homestead
property that may be excluded when determining the real estate tax owed. Under
the current language in the state Constitution, the House and Senate are not
permitted to consider such a change, limited only to homeowners.
The proposed amendment contains two significant modifications. First, the
amount of the homestead property that may be exempt from local property taxes
would increase. Second, relief would be based on the value of an individual
property, rather than an average of all properties in a taxing jurisdiction.
The issue of school property tax reform has been a hot topic across
Pennsylvania for decades. Many different property tax changes have been
considered, ranging from elimination of school property taxes for all, to more
limited relief targeted to seniors. The ballot referendum itself does not mean
property taxes would disappear. For most residents, property tax relief through
the expanded homestead exemption depends on future legislative action to provide
local taxing authorities with alternative revenue sources. However, the
constitutional change could improve the chances for such action taking place.