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Senator calls for elimination of sales, personal income tax

Times Observer file photo Sen. Scott Hutchinson, shown here speaking at the dedication of Lacy Park in the City of Warren, has issued legislative memos calling for the elimination of both sales and the personal income tax in the Commonwealth.

State Sen. Scott Hutchinson is advocating for sweeping changes to how taxes are collected in Pennsylvania.

Legislative memos authored by the senator call for constitutional amendments to eliminate both the Sales and Use Tax as well as the Personal Income Tax.

According to the Department of Revenue, the sales tax rate is 6 percent throughout much of the state except in Allegheny County (7 percent) and Philadelphia (8 percent). The personal income tax rate is 3.07 percent.

Hutchinson called the sales tax “no doubt regressive in its individually felt burden,” meaning that it hits those who make the least to the greatest degree.

“That disproportional burden robs people of the financial margin that those with higher incomes use to purchase commodities of desire that is in and of itself an expression of the liberty to choose,” the memo states.

Hutchinson argues that “capital is a means by which we participate in our liberties and pursue the ends of them” and called the current sales tax an “unequal amount of tax burden” as something that “creates an unequal amount of liberty.”

His proposed constitutional amendment “would allow for us to re-examine how we raise that revenue and implement a more just revenue source for Pennsylvania.”

The criticism of the personal income tax (PIT) is rooted much more in how it has been implemented.

“With its dizzying rules and regulations, exemptions and exceptions, the PIT has truly become a behemoth unfamiliar to the minds and intentions that birthed it,” Hutchinson’s memo states. “It is then no surprise that dissimilar tax treatment between two supposedly equal taxpayers begins to occur, often as a result of the contradictory or novel interpretations of this PIT law.”

He was critical of now only the “unequal application” of the tax but also “the policy decision of the legislature.

“Those who have the least to deduct or who do not fall into welfare program requirements are hit the hardest, while those who can receive public assistance or deduct thousands of dollars are minimally burdened.”

The amendment here would “allow for us to re-examine how we raise that revenue and implement a more fair and reasonable revenue source….”

The memos were authored back in October and there is still no legislation that has been introduced on these issues.

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