Property taxes

VICKI MUNZ

Lock Haven

This is the time of year that breaks my heart, opening up the newspaper to see 300-plus properties facing sheriff sale.

There are many homeowners who have already placed their homes with the tax collector, making quarterly payments on their delinquent taxes. I know this is fact.

The sad part here is that more than likely they are paying more money in fines than what the yearly amount of taxes owed is. The fines are outrageous but then that’s the way the government has to operate. They need to make money somewhere.

This brings me to my topic.

While people are complaining and hating on a daily basis because they are unhappy with our president, they are not opening their eyes to a terrible, terrible situation so many homeowners are facing these days: the loss of their American Dream.

I remember when I was young I thought how awesome it would be to own my own home.

I knew it would take years of hard work and determination to make my dream come true. I’m very sure many others felt the same way.

We were taught by our parents, grandparents, teachers and others how important it is to work hard for something you want. Homeowners did just that, they worked hard. They reached and reached for the American Dream and right now, in today’s paper, I see 300-plus who may soon lose what they worked so hard to achieve.

There is a bill that needs passed in order for more homeowners to hold onto their American Dream.

That is SB 76. It started as HB-SB 76. It’s the elimination of the ever-so-cruel property tax.

It has already passed the House but now it needs to pass the Senate.

Some people will argue about where the money will come from that is lost by not collecting these ridiculous taxes.

I’m willing to pay more in sales tax to make it fairer to the homeowners.

The leaders need to come together and lift the burden off the homeowners.

Everyone should be paying their fair share. I hear people say that people who pay rent pay towards the taxes. Well, yes they do.

However, the landlord can pay the taxes on his property in a couple months’ rent, but homeowners don’t have that option.

Why should homeowners have to pay the brunt of taxes to keep the schools funded and the administrations funded?

Why should the homeowner be punished for working hard all his/her life to take hold of the American Dream?

No tax should have the power to leave you homeless.

Sound familiar? Please take time to read the following letter written some years ago but still of importance today:

Date: Jan 19, 2009

Subject: A Deputy Sheriff’s View of Property Tax Seizures

Dear David,

I have to write you this note because of disgust I have with the excessive taxes and the ugly result that is happening to our property owners in Pennsylvania.

I am a deputy sheriff in Pennsylvania. One of the duties of our job is to serve foreclosure notices and conduct physical evictions on property owners.

Imagine having someone knock on your door up to 10 p.m. in the evening. You answer the door and are faced with two or more deputy sheriffs in full uniform with a marked sheriff’s car outside. The local police may already been notified in the event of a “problem”.

The neighbors may be watching.

One of the deputies presents you with a court order stating that you are being evicted from your home due to unpaid property taxes. This process may already have taken a year or so before coming to this tragic end, but the property owner knows it’s coming.

The property owner reacts with fear, uncertainty, anger and shame.

You advise the owner and family present that they have a “short” (15 minutes or so) time to vacate the premises.

The wife starts crying, the kids are screaming and it gets ugly. Emotions are at their highest. You follow, for the safety of the deputies, the residents through their house and “allow” them to pack a few bags before they are “escorted” out of the house and off the property.

Sometimes even the vehicles are seized as a result of default, thereby making the owners and family leave on foot. A latch and lock bolts are attached to the doors and notices are posted that the house is now available for sheriff’s sale.

This is the real-life reenactment of what we do.

It’s dirty, disgusting and shameful. How can this happen you may ask yourself?

Let me tell you.

Your local municipality and school district elected officials are often incompetent and lack any business experience and/or training.

They levy tax after tax after tax on “improvements” that your “representatives” see fit for the “good” of the community.

New and “improved” multimillion-dollar schools and township buildings are built resulting in “needed additional taxes.” These ever-increasing taxes are levied on top of your already high taxes.

The two working parent/partner property owners struggle to pay these taxes, but now the working, retired, disabled or low-wage-earning family just can’t keep up. They are unable to pay these excessive taxes and go into default.

Additional fines and penalties are assessed, further aggravating the situation.

Eventually a court action is levied by the county against the owner and the property is seized, sometimes by force and arrest. Yes, by show of or actual physical force and arrest!

Now is the time to stop this abuse.

Restructure the way we are assessed taxes and save the homes of hard-working, retired and disabled property owners in Pennsylvania.

Have the deputy sheriffs do what we do best and that is law enforcement, not tax collectors and evictors!

Remember, our country seceded from the British rule but not without an ugly price.

History is reliving itself.

Remember the Revolution.

Is it necessary to come to that? It may be.

This letter is so sad. It happens all the time.

There are at least 10,000 sheriff sales a year in Pennsylvania.

We need relief.

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