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Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition

Alanna Hartzok, State Coordinator

Dan Sullivan, Pittsburgh area activist

Richard Biddle, Philadelphia area activist

Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition advocates reducing or eliminating taxes on buildings to encourage upkeep and improvements and reducing or removing wage taxes in order to increase workers earnings. The tax base then shifts onto the value of land in order to encourage good site use and affordable access to land for housing and businesses.

We are pro-incentive and anti-speculation and envision a truly free and fair economy.

This tax policy is in place to varying degrees in a number of municipalities throughout the state of Pennsylvania and has had proven success in restoring the economic vitality of cities.

"The City of Harrisburg continues in the view that a land value taxation system, which places a much higher tax rate on land than on improvements, is an important incentive for the highest and best use of land...and continues to be one of the key local policies that has been factored into this initial economic success here." - Stephen R. Reed, Mayor, City of Harrisburg

Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition supports legislation to extend the options for the two-rate property tax approach and other ground rent collection bills. Most recently we worked for the successful passage of SB 211, which passed through the state legislature in 1998 by a vote of 246 to 2. Sponsored by Senator Terry Punt, this bill gave the option for the split-rate tax for the 964 boroughs of the state.

Our next step legislatively is passage of a bill which will give the split-rate tax option to the school districts of the state. We need your help!

Join the PFTC email list!

Your membership will plug you into a vibrant community of activists, professionals and researchers forming a growing worldwide land tax movement.

Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition supports legislation to extend the options for the two-rate property tax approach and other ground rent collection bills.


On November 24, 1998, Governor Thomas Ridge signed Act 108 , enabling legislation for the so-called "split-rate" property tax reform option for boroughs. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Terry Punt as SB 211 and supported by Representative Jeffrey Coy, passed through the legislature with a near unanimous vote of 246 to 2.

To understand how the split-rate tax works it is helpful to view the property tax as actually two very different types of taxes. The tax which falls on buildings is a disincentive to improvements, renovations and good upkeep of residential, commercial and industrial property. The split-rate tax approach lowers taxes on buildings and improvements by levying a lower rate on their value. Your taxes do NOT increase when you fix your home.

The tax which falls on land values, however, is beneficial because it encourages good site use and discourages land speculation and profiteering from a common heritage resource. Land values increase due to the efforts of the entire community and to public investments in infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer lines. High quality educational systems funded by the public also increase land values.

By increasing the rate on land values to make up for the lower taxes on buildings, the public thereby recaptures the value that it has created. Land values, the "common wealth" thereby support the Commonwealth. And conversely, value created by individual labor and capital improvements are kept in the private sector when building taxes are lowered. Effort and responsibility are rewarded.

The split-rate tax reform is already in place in 15 cities in Pennsylvania which have found it to be of great benefit in revitalizing their local economies. This public finance approach, by collecting more of the community created land value for community needs by levying taxes on the value of the site or location while lowering the tax on improvements contributed by individual effort is a constructive way of securing public revenue which:

  • Encourages building upkeep
  • Stimulates new construction where needed
  • Keeps land prices and housing affordable by discouraging land speculation
  • Discourages sprawl by encouraging good site use in already developed areas
  • Lowers property taxes for most home and business owners who make good use of valuable sites
  • Revitalizes downtown

If you would like to find out more about how the split-rate tax might be of benefit to your town please contact Alanna Hartzok, State Coordinator, Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition, Box 328, Scotland, PA 17254, email or phone 717-264-0957. She would be happy to discuss with you the next steps in the implementation of this proven local tax reform.