Wolf's tax plan will tap money from all income levels, independent analysis says

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — The sprawling package of tax changes Gov. Tom Wolf is seeking may not necessarily spare lower-income households, as his administration contends, the Legislature's fiscal analysis arm said this week.

The Independent Fiscal Office analysis released Thursday projected that Wolf's tax package would raise a net of $4.6 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year, its first full fiscal year in effect, after counting $4.6 billion in tax cuts or other reductions.

The Wolf administration wants to use the remaining revenue to pump more money into education programs, meet rising pension and health care costs, and plug a large projected deficit in state finances that has helped drive down Pennsylvania's bond rating.

Overall, the changes sought by Wolf, a Democrat, would make Pennsylvania's tax system more progressive by shifting a greater burden to higher-income earners, the Independent Fiscal Office said in the 37-page report.

Residents at $100,000 in annual income or above would pay nearly half of the $4.6 billion net increase, while residents who earn below $100,000 in annual income would pay about one-fourth of the increase, the report said.

Non-residents would pay about one-fourth, too, it said.

Overall, taxes on income, sales, tobacco, banks and natural gas production would rise under Wolf's plan. Meanwhile, the plan would cut school property taxes and corporate taxes and expand rent rebates to include all households under $50,000 in annual income. Philadelphia wage taxpayers would get a cut, instead of a property tax reduction that is intended for every other school district.

The Wolf administration has cited an analysis by the state Department of Revenue that said the governor's tax plan would deliver a tax cut to the average home-owning family of four that makes under $100,000. It counted only his proposed changes to sales, income and property taxes.

The plan is under consideration by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

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