Skip Navigation

How to get rid of property taxes? Lawmaker looks to retirement income.

Republican Frank Ryan is 68 and doesn't plan to stay in office long. He says that makes him the perfect sponsor for a controversial plan.

  • Katie Meyer
Representative Frank Ryan explains his still-unintroduced plan to reporters from a press conference in 2019.

 Katie Meyer / WITF

Representative Frank Ryan explains his still-unintroduced plan to reporters from a press conference in 2019.

(Harrisburg) — One state House lawmaker is trying to pitch a new solution to a very old Pennsylvania problem: the reliance on school property taxes.

Lebanon County Republican Representative Frank Ryan acknowledged Tuesday, his still-unintroduced property tax elimination plan would be a big, difficult pill for the commonwealth to swallow. That’s mainly because the plan contains nearly five-percent tax on all retirement income except Social Security.

“Knowing how politically sensitive this is, I can’t think of anybody other than a 68-year-old sophomore representative who could be willing to bring this up and talk about it,” Ryan said.

He acknowledged, high earning senior citizens like himself would definitely pay more under the plan. And he added, some struggling school districts might have to either cut spending or consolidate.

“This is not going to be an easy sell,” he said. “It’s controversial. It’s never been done before.”

Along with the retiree tax, Ryan’s plan would assess a 1.85 percent local personal income tax and a two percent local sales levy, which would extend to food and clothes.

Spokespeople for House and Senate leaders said they’re waiting for recommendations from a task force on the issue before taking a stance on any bills.

Berks County GOP Senator David Argall, the head of the Senate Majority Policy Committee and one of the legislature’s key voices on property tax elimination, has said Ryan’s retiree tax is politically unfeasible—telling the Reading Eagle it is “very, very unpopular with the people that I represent.”

However, he said he is considering some of Ryan’s other proposals.

Ryan said he has been busy shopping his proposal around to his own constituents—particularly retirees, without whose support he said the bill will crash and burn.

That support currently stands at about 50 percent, he estimated. Retirees who live solely on Social Security tend to back it, and those with pensions or equivalents do not.

“Never would I have designed a system from scratch that looks like the bill I’m proposing,” he said. “But I didn’t design the system that I have to fix.”

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
National & World News

Democrats spending millions to take back statehouses