Real StoriesThese stories speak for themselves.
This is a compilation of stories submitted here, and ones we borrowed (with permission) from the PTCC website.
Many of these stories are heartbreaking. They show your PA neighbors suffering unnecessarily from the burden of property taxes.
Please consider submitting your own property tax story. Then, ask your legislator to eliminate school property taxes so we can stop collecting tragic stories like these!
Up until 2005, my wife and I had worked hard and built our own business in order to save for our retirement as well as purchase three properties: one as our primary residence, one for vacations at the Jersey Shore and yet a third for my our aging mother. We have been and continue to pay school property taxes on all three properties, despite the fact that we are only permitted to vote in one district where our primary residence is located. This was fine as long as we continued to work and we were willing to overlook the unfair situation of taxation without representation until December 2005. In 2005, I became severely ill with liver disease due to HepC and was placed on the liver transplant list. I began to receive Social Security Disability after receiving a liver transplant in December 2006. After several months, I returned to work under the trial work period and hired workers to deliver the contracted services I had initiated, so we were able to continue to "work" and fund our retirement accounts up until June 2009, when the business ceased operations due to the economic downturn and the worsening of my medical condition. We had to let four workers go and I was forced to go back on Social Security Disability, which by the way only paid a small fraction of what we previously had earned while working, it has now become our only source of income, other than some interest and dividends income. On a personal note, I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school from K-12, which was paid for entirely by my parents. I attended the local community college at a cost of $250 per semester, and received an Associate's degree in life sciences which transferred to Temple University pharmacy school. I received grants and student loans to pay for my degree as well as an additional two years for an MBA, all of which I paid for myself. Now we are seeing more and more Catholic schools closing due to increasing costs and decreasing enrollments because parents are not able to afford to pay both their local property taxes and for the private school tuitions. Now we see parents who lack a choice of where they educate their children because the local school districts have a stacked deck against private and parochial schools and we have parents who are faced with ever increasing school property taxes and other expenses while attempting to adjust to a significantly smaller income which has not been increased for two years. Now, in addition to having to pay taxes on properties where we cannot vote, we are having to do so under extremely difficult conditions based upon our increasing expenses and fixed income and continue not to have a choice for those parents who wish to choose a private or parochial school for their children. School property tax reform is now a major priority for us and for many other Pennsylvanians who are on fixed incomes and who have already raised their families.
Bucks County, PA
You wanted a real face with a real story. I hope this helps, because the school property tax is a major financial burden for me. In 2003 I built my house in Lancaster County; I was told my school and county property taxes would be only $2,800. Five years later, I am now paying over $4,600 for the same house. The bigger difference from 2003 to now, is back in 2003, I was married with 2 incomes to count on to pay all the bills. But life since then has seriously changed for my family. I am now a single father, struggling every day for the last 3 years raising three very young children ages 5, 8, 9 years by myself. Aside from the day to day stuff of dealing with bills, school, doctors, house, food shopping, and cooking, I had to try to make money in between. However, from September 2005 to December 2007, I had more money going out than coming in. Thank God, my savings and credit helped me weather the financial storm of red ink. As you can guess, my saving is all now exhausted. We are now just living from paycheck to paycheck. Last year, to pay my school property taxes on time I had to take a cash advance from my credit card to pay the school property tax bill. This year, I refused to use my credit cards again for school property taxes. At present, I still owe over $3,700 in past due school taxes. At least I can thank God again, because I am counting on my Federal and State income tax returns. When they come in it will be a big help for me paying off the property tax bill finally. The only down side is that tax return money could have been better used to pay for braces that my 9 year old daughter that really needs, and has been waiting over a year. This is my real story.
My personal story! I am a senior female 77 years old. I lost my husband last September. When he died, he took half of our income with him. The property tax is $7600. I prepared years ago living on a budget, but always had enough to cover expenses. His death has been difficult for me. We were married 59 years. Our property tax will force me to leave my home. I do not believe this will ever be solved. Hope I am wrong
Boothwyn, Delaware County
I can't afford to live anymore. I have a mortgage to pay, medicine to buy, utilities to pay for and taxes to pay, which I can't afford. I am a disabled widow on Social Security Disability. The SS takes $100 out of my check before I even get it. The property taxes and school taxes, I don't understand why I have to be punished and made to pay. Yes, I own the house and live in it and have to pay taxes I can't afford. I have no kids in school but I have to pay school tax, which I can not afford. It is a little bit ridiculous isn't it? A homeowner is being punished for owning a home. Can't you do away with property and school taxes? Please think about it as someday you might be in the same spot!!!!!
My story pales in comparison to the example in your letter I received today but I did want to share my story if it helps. I am in the National Guard and have been in since 1988. I've been working full time with the Guard for 15 years. I love my job and I love my country. My wife and I decided when we had kids, she would be a "stay at home mom" and take care of the children. Well, that happened a little over 12 years ago. As time passed, we realized that we also wanted to homeschool because of the demise of the moral values in our school systems and the subjects that the schools were teaching kids. We have strong Christian values so opted to homeschool. It has been a blessing to our lives but it has come with sacrifices. I work full time plus have my National Guard requirements on the weekends. We live in a modest house, drive vehicles that are older but paid off and just have normal living standards. Our motto is that we don't spend money we don't have. I have a great paying job but after our monthly bills, we have about $400 to $500 each month to live on. The meaning of "live on" includes buying groceries. If we are lucky, we may get a family outing once each month. It is hard to get two children ages 12 and 6 to understand that. They see me working all of the time but don't understand how much things cost. My fall school taxes are $1999 each year. The spring taxes for the county are $800. If we did not have to pay those school taxes, it would give me almost $200 more each month- a 50% increase in my monthly budget. We do not get any breaks from the school district for homeschooling. All extra costs are out of pocket expenses. Anyway, school taxes only affect actual homeowners which seems unfair. As a homeowner, I feel penalized for being taxed because I own a home. School tax relief is desperately needed. Thank you for your time
Two years ago York County re-assessed all residential properties in the county for the strict purpose of raising more revenue without raising the tax rate (though they attempt to deny this). While I was sitting in the waiting room to protest my new assessment, I talked to a 75 year old retired farmer who was there to protest his assessment. He told me that he does not have the money to pay the county, the township and his school district the increased property taxes caused by the re-assessment. He stated firmly and unequivocally that when "they" come to foreclose his house because he can't pay his property taxes, "they" had better bring some fire trucks as he would burn his house to the ground before allowing "them" to take it from him. He was deadly serious about this. Of course, "they" and "them" are the mini-bureaucrats who claim to represent the taxpayers, but in fact whose sole purpose is to take care of themselves and the local government employees with excellent salaries, free or low-cost health insurance, fancy new buildings for their offices and more vehicles then they have employees to drive. So it is not just school property taxes that need to be abolished, but ALL property taxes including those imposed by townships, boroughs and counties. Please do what you can to get these property tax problems resolve or we will see many fire trucks traveling the countryside of Pennsylvania. Thanks for listening, too bad my state representatives don't