Property Tax Relief Not as Awesome as Rendell Says

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner put out another report that should embarrass the Rendell administration, this one one the claimed benefits of property tax relief. (Full report in PDF).

Specifically, Wagner points out that:

1) You have to apply as a “homestead” or “farmstead” to get property tax relief (except in Philadelphia where everyone gets a wage tax reduction), and a lot of people did not – they either didn’t know they had to, or were too confused.

2) While over $3 billion has been collected in gaming taxes since 2004, and the Rendell administration claims $2.1 billion in property tax relief over that time, there has actually only been $1.7 billion actually delivered in property tax relief.

The report also notes in passing what I find to be the most important fact – the level of property tax relief (about $600 million per year) is vastly exceed by the increase in school property taxes since 2004 ($2.1 billion through 2007-08, and probably another $1.5 billion since then). In fact, Wagner’s report identified several school districts in which last year’s property tax increase exceeded the amount in property tax relief.