PBPC Releases New Roadmap to State and Local Tax Policy

Public investments make a difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians, but few really understand the esoteric world of state and local taxes. PBPC wants to change that with a new publication called The Common Good: What Pennsylvania's Budget and Tax Policies Mean to You.

The easy-to-read handbook explains Pennsylvania's state and local tax structures and how Pennsylvania's budget is put together. It challenges myths about Pennsylvania's tax burden and spending levels by comparing the commonwealth's spending and taxes to those in other states and examining how Pennsylvania spending and tax levels have changed over time.

Among the findings:

  • Pennsylvania ranks favorably when compared to the nation and to competitor states in overall tax and spending levels. In 2005, the commonwealth ranked 32nd nationally in state taxes as a share of state personal income, and 30th in state spending.

  • Pennsylvania taxes were 6.3 percent of state personal income, a half-percentage point less than the average of competitor states.

  • Pennsylvania's state and local tax system is also highly regressive, taking a significantly larger share of the incomes of the bottom 20 percent of earners than the incomes of more affluent Pennsylvanians.

  • Pennsylvania relies heavily on local taxes to fund a variety of services, especially public education. The state's share of education spending ranks low, putting more of that cost onto local taxpayers. Forty-six states kick in more funding for public education than Pennsylvania.

The Common Good: What Pennsylvania's Budget and Tax Policies Mean to You is designed to translate the terminology of budget and tax issues into plain language to help policymakers, journalists, advocates, and all Pennsylvanians understand where their tax dollars are spent.

You can download a copy of the publication by clicking here. You can also view a summary of the publication's main findings by clicking here.

budget watch

Download the tax primer in PDF format.

Download a summary of the tax primer in PDF format.

Printed Copies Available

If you would like a printed copy of The Common Good: What Pennsylvania's Budget and Tax Policies Mean to You by mail, please provide your name and address below.