Pennsylvania’s Tax Code is Hideously Regressive

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Pennsylvania’s crazy regressive tax code is an issue I think it would be worth picking a Constitutional amendment fight over:

Pennsylvania is one of the “Terrible Ten” states with the most regressive tax structures nationwide, hitting the poor hardest while taking the least from the rich, according to a new report from the liberal Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy […]

Poor Pennsylvanians effectively pay 12 percent of their income in state taxes, middle-income people pay 9.8 percent, and the top 1 percent pay 4.4 percent, the study finds. That means that low-income Pennsylvanians pay taxes at rates nearly three times as high as their 1 percenter counterparts […]

Pennsylvania, according to the study, has the ninth-highest tax rate on the poor of any state nationwide. And they don’t get much for their money: Gov. Tom Corbett has cut public basic and higher education by $1 billion, heavily cut into county programs for the poor and disabled, and entirely eliminated cash General Assistance welfare.

The flat income tax is in the state Constitution, so if we want to create some higher tax brackets then we have to pass a bill in two consecutive sessions, and win a statewide ballot referendum.

Politicians don’t like to take on protracted multi-session fights like this, but the messaging on this one is very clear (should rich people pay more of the taxes than poor people?) and it’s totally winnable. What’s more, this is an issue that Democratic challengers could organize around for the next decade. Progressives can make this a litmus test for the Governor primary, and use it to primary out craven or conservative Democrats.

(Thanks: Daniel Denvir)

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