Pennsylvania Senate Approves Distressed Cities Bill

HARRISBURG — Scranton residents could see their taxes rise under legislation approved unanimously Wednesday by the Senate.

The measure would require that Scranton levy a tax on residents equal to or more than its 0.75 percent commuter earned income tax.

This stipulation is included in a late amendment added to the bill by the sponsor, Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, Hollidaysburg. The goal here is to treat all Act 47 municipalities — including those like Scranton that have distressed municipal pension plans subject to Act 205 — the same, said Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald.

Ten other municipalities levy a pension-related earned income tax, but they levy it on both commuters and resident workers, he added.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/senate-approves-distressed-cities-bill-1.1759951

Family Services Offers Free Income Tax Preparation To Low-Income Individuals And Families

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Family Services, the Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are offering free income tax preparation to low-to-moderate income individuals and families (who earn less than $52,000) through theVolunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The IRS trains and certifies all VITA volunteers to prepare and electronically file incometax forms. VITA volunteers are trained to assist clients in claiming special credits and refunds, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The mission of the program is to help working families improve their finances and increase their self-sufficiency.

“We can help put money back in your pocket,” said Kathy Cael, VITA site coordinator. “By filing your taxes through a VITA site, not only will you save money in filing fees, but you’ll also receive your tax refund quickly. In most cases, tax refunds are deposited directly into your bank account within 7-to-10 days.”

Read more: http://fsmontco.org/news/family-services-offers-free-income-tax-preparation-low-income-individuals-and-families-0

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State Budget Action Takes Center Stage This Week In The House, But Will It Get Done On Time?

The House today is expected to begin debate on a $28.3 billion state spending plan for next year.

It is the House Republicans’ 2013-14 budget proposal, one of three that has been put on the table along with ones from Gov. Tom Corbett and Senate Democrats.

None of the three plans call for any increases in in broad-based taxes, such as the sales tax or personal income taxes.

Much of today’s debate is likely to  focus on amendments that reflect the House Democrats’ priorities that would raise the proposed total spending level to $28.7 billion.  The additional money they want to spend would be directed to K-12 and higher education and social services.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/state_budget_action_takes_cent.html#incart_m-rpt-2

April Fools? Berks Tax Form Explained, Two Ways

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stratix Systems, a Wyomissing-based computer storage and printing service, is normally a very helpful partner to the Berks Earned Income Tax Bureau.

“This year they were a little too helpful,” said Kathy Weist, executive director of the Berks EIT, tax collector for municipalities and school districts in Berks County.

Weist blames Stratix for a mistake on the 2012 tax form that switched instructions for Line 14 and Line 16, which could cause taxpayers to expect a refund when they actually owe tax.

“But there was absolutely no malice involved,” Weist said. “The person involved was trying to make our new forms conform to the language on the state forms.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=468960

Don’t Be Fooled By January Pay — Higher Taxes Loom

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Workers probably won’t feel the full brunt of next year’s tax increases in their January paychecks, but don’t be fooled by the temporary reprieve.

No matter what Congress does to address the year-end fiscal cliff, it’s already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from January paychecks, unless all the current tax rates remain unchanged, which is an unlikely scenario.

Social Security payroll taxes are set to increase on Jan. 1, so workers should immediately feel the squeeze of a 2 percent cut in their take-home pay.  But as talks drag on over how to address other year-end tax increases, the Internal Revenue Service has delayed releasing income tax withholding tables for 2013.

As a result, employers are planning to withhold income taxes at the 2012 rates, at least for the first one or two paychecks of the year, said Michael O’Toole of the American Payroll Association.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121222/NEWS04/121229781/don-t-be-fooled-by-january-pay–higher-taxes-loom#full_story

Scranton City Council To Introduce Commuter Tax

Scranton City Council will be voting Thursday to introduce a commuter tax, according to a public notice issued today.

A commuter tax – a 1 percent earned-income tax on nonresidents of Scranton who work in the city – is one of the city’s key alternatives to property tax hikes under its revised Act 47 recovery plan adopted Aug. 23.

A 1 percent commuter tax is expected to raise $2.5 million next year and $4 million in 2014 and 2015, city officials have said.

The council ordinance would propose to increase the non-resident earned-income tax from the current 1 percent to 2 percent, while maintaining the earned-income tax of 2.4 percent on city residents, the public notice states.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-to-introduce-commuter-tax-1.1384991

Pennsylvania Experiences Revenue Decrease For October

Some disappointing financial news for Pennsylvania.  Revenue collected for October was 3.2% below projections, which translates to $57 million dollars less than expected for the month.  $44 million of the shortfall was in the personal income tax category.

We aren’t out of the woods yet!