Over-taxation without representation in Pennsylvania
When government runs a surplus, it means people are paying too much in taxes.
After finishing the 2006-07 fiscal year with a $650 million surplus, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania continues to take in more than it needs to operate.
Politicians call it a surplus or a rainy day fund or a cushion, but what we're dealing with here is over-taxation. Government is taking in too much money, more money than it projected it would need to stay in operation and more money than its number-crunchers anticipated.
The August numbers released by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue show that Pennsylvania collected $1.7 billion for its General Fund, which was $6.5 million more than anticipated.
The state took in $1.8 billion in July, the first month of the new fiscal year. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $3.5 billion, which is $17.4 million above estimate.
Here's a suggestion. Give the money back. Today. Not a year from now. Not when it has accumulated to $500 million or more. Now.
You remember what happened to the $650 million the state had left over after the last fiscal year, don't you? The politicians spent it. It's gone. As in we'll never see a dime of it despite umpteenth promises by Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature that they're going to cut property taxes.
Here's some other highlights from the Department of Revenue's monthly report:
Sales tax receipts totaled $693.7 million for August, which was $11.4 million above estimate. Sales tax collections, year-to-date, total $1.5 billion, which is $11.5 million above estimate, or 0.8 percent, more than anticipated.
Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenue in August was $651.4 million, which was $16.9 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $1.3 billion, which is $16.8 million, or 1.3 percent, below estimate.
August corporation tax revenue of $62.3 million was $2.6 million below estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $160.2 million, which is $0.9 million, or 0.6 percent, below estimate.
Other General Fund revenue figures for the month included $73.0 million in inheritance tax, which was $8.3 million above estimate, bringing the year-to- date total to $151.7 million, which is $8.3 million above estimate.
Realty transfer tax was $53.1 million for August, bringing the total to $107.0 million for the year, which is $13.2 million more than anticipated.
Other General Fund revenue including the cigarette, malt beverage and liquor tax totaled $119.6 million for the month, $6.9 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $243.8 million, which is $2.2 million above estimate.
In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $182.8 million for the month, $17.4 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $375.7 million, which is $17.4 million, or 4.4 percent, below estimate.
The Gaming Fund received $88.6 million in unrestricted revenues for August. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $222.9 million. Gaming Fund receipts include taxes, fees and interest. Of the total for the month, $37.9 million was collected in state taxes for property tax relief, bringing the year-to-date total to $71.9 million.
Other gaming-related revenues collected for August included $4.5 million for the local share assessment, for a total of $8.9 million for the year; $5.6 million for the Economic Development and Tourism Fund, for a year-to-date total of $10.6 million; and $13.4 million for the Race Horse Development Fund, bringing the total for the year to $25.4 million.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas