During the gubernatorial campaign, incoming governor Tom Wolf emphasized that the state’s richest need to pay fair share in state income taxes. In June, Wolf said, “I’m looking at it from the point of view of fairness. I think people like me should pay more. I think people who are starting out, building a business, starting a family, should pay less.”
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Budget Policy Center published a yearly report showing that Pennsylvania’s lower and middle income families are still paying two to three times more in their unfair share of state income taxes when compared to the richest one percent. The report points out that the state’s poorest fifth, who make less than $20,000 a year, pay 12 percent in state income taxes, and the state’s middle income, who make between $38,000 and $60,000 a year, have an income tax rate at 10.3 percent. This is happening while the state’s top one percent, whose average income is $1.24 million, is paying 4.3 percent in state income taxes, which is two to three times lower than what lower and middle income families are paying.
Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said that “Pennsylvania asks too much of low- and middle-income workers and not enough of its wealthiest citizens,” and continued with, “forty-two states have a graduated income tax. By enacting one here, too, Pennsylvania policymakers can show they stand with the middle-class.”
For the Raging Chicken Press, I reported that Pennsylvania is only one of two states in the country that allows individual municipalities to control their pension obligations, and because of that, nearly 46 percent of the state’s 1,233 municipalities are facing some sort of distress. Here we have yet another example where Pennsylvania is behind curve. The state is only one of a handful of states that places their income tax burden on the shoulders of the lower and middle classes through a regressive taxation policy.